London: At least 20 beautiful Russian spies, who are members of a sleeper cell put together by the glamorous Russian agent Anna Chapman, have been operating in Britain, a media report said.
All the women are under orders from the Kremlin to woo diplomats and politicians to uncover secrets about UK`s trade links and matters of national security; and, their weapon of choice is "sex", the `Sunday Express` reported.
According to British spy agency MI5, the sleeper cell was formed by Chapman who was deported from the US on espionage charges in July. In fact, while in Britain until 2006, she is thought to have approached 20 female students from Russia and old Soviet republics like Armenia, Belarus and the Ukraine.
The 28-year-old Chapman would meet the women in West End nightclubs, the report said.
"Anna Chapman was a modern-day Mata Hari whose smouldering looks and charm left many a man weak at the knees and helped her forge close ties with business leaders and diplomats.”
"Before she left London for New York she was told to help build a sleeper cell made up of women like her who could use their sex appeal as a weapon.”
"We know that she met up with at least 20. They had to combine beauty with brains and know how to use their feminine charms to coax careless whispers out of male admirers," an MI5 source was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
MI5 has now asked America`s FBI to trawl through Chapman`s telephone records again, believing she made calls to Russian sleeper agents in London from her home in the US.
UK security chiefs suspect intelligence officers are being sent here on spying or recruitment missions, many working in the defence or political sector as researchers and translators, or as students, the report said.