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Russian spies mastered leading double lives

June 29, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Coded messages. Secret radio transmissions. Even invisible ink. The FBI says that's how 10 accused Russian spies were passing their information back to the Russian government from the U.S. for nearly a decade.Now, neighbors and even immediate family members are still wondering how these covert operations were happening right under their noses.

Anna Chapman, 28, is seen praising America for its freedoms in a video blog posted in Russian last month on Facebook.

A regular on the New York City club scene, friends say Chapman came off as sexy, flirtatious and rich.

But the FBI says it was all cover for her work as a Russian spy.

Vicki Palaes posed as a columnist for a Spanish language newspaper in New York.

On Tuesday, her son was caught off guard when both his mother and father were arrested on conspiracy charges.

"It's scary," he said. "It's very scary."

The FBI says for years 10 Russian spies lived and worked among Americans, secretly passing money at subway stations in New York and sending intelligence from laptops and coffee shops.

According to one intercepted message, their job was "to search and develop ties in policymaking circles in U.S. and send intelligence reports" to a center.

Some of the people the accused spies met with include a former high-ranking national security official, a person working on bunker buster nuclear warheads and a New York financier who is prominent in politics.

It's the last type of business neighbors suspected Cynthia Murphy would conduct.

"She would carry in her arms flowers," said neighbor Elizabeth Lapin. "Not roses, but spring flowers."

Living in a suburban home in New Jersey, Cynthia posed as a financial consultant. Her husband, Richard, as a stay-at-home dad.

The FBI says their two grade school children had no idea their parents were Russian, let alone spies.

"I just honestly feel really bad for the little girls," said a neighbor. "Who are they? Are they really their children?"

And overseas in Cypress on Tuesday, the FBI arrested a man responsible for financing the spies.

These arrests come just days after President Barrack Obama had a friendly meeting with Russia's president in Washington D.C.

On Tuesday, both leaders confirmed this case should not affect relations between the U.S. and Russia.


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