he void left in America's heart when U.S. authorities traded away Russian agent Anna Chapman in a Cold War–style spy swap earlier this month has at last been filled: Yesterday, federal agents announced the arrest of 24-year old Latvian "hottie" Anna Fermanova on charges of arms smuggling. (Watch an ABC report about Anna Fermanova's arrest)
What do we know about Fermanova?
She's a U.S. citizen who emigrated to Texas from Latvia with her parents when she was nine years old. Fermanova was recently splitting her time between Plano, Tex. and Moscow, where her husband lives. According to her arrest report, she has no tattoos but does sport a belly-button ring. She earned a degree in cosmetology in 2005, and is a licensed beautician in Texas.
What is she charged with?
Trying to smuggle three military-grade night-vision rifle scopes out of the country without a license, a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison. She was arrested July 15, coming back into the U.S.; she was allowed to fly to Moscow in March after customs agents, acting on a tip, found and seized $15,000 worth of rifle scopes in her bag. She had removed or obscured all the identifying marks on the scopes, court documents say. Fermanova is currently under house arrest in Plano, on $50,000 bond.
What's her defense?
Her lawyer, Scott Palmer, calls the charges "really silly" and says Fermanova was bringing the rifle scopes to her husband, for his hunting buddies. "She is quite sexy, you could say, but she is not a spy," Palmer told The Dallas Morning News, while taking the opposite tack with the New York Daily News, in which he describes Fermanova as "a nice Jewish girl who lives with her sweet Latvian parents."
So will Fermanova replace Anna Chapman in our imagination?
Chapman is gone, so Fermanova is inevitably "America's new sexy spy," says Gawker's Maureen O'Connor. There are similarities, says The Smoking Gun. "Like the 28-year-old Chapman, Fermanova's Facebook page is stocked with photos likely to make her a tabloid favorite." OK, but despite the "inevitable comparisons," says Dana Chivvis in AOL News, "the two seem to have little in common." For example: "Chapman ran a $2 million real estate business in New York City while acting as a Russian agent on the side. Fermanova is a cosmetologist."
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