Haggai Carmon: Attorney and Author

A Case of Russian Sexpionage in Britain or Simply a Case of a Young Woman Preferring Older High Ranking Officials?

Huffington Post Op Eds 11/01/2011

Ekaterina “Katia” Zatuliveter insists that she is not a Russian spy operating in the UK. Russia also insists that she was not their spy. MI5, the British internal intelligence service insists that she was working for Russian intelligence and wants her deported from the UK. Zatuliveter is currently fighting in the Special Immigration Appeals Commission in central London a decision to deport her for ‘being not conducive to the national interest.’ Zatuliveter is originally from Dagestan, a former province of the Soviet Union, but left as a child following the conflict in Chechnya, and moved to Britain, subsequently obtaining a degree at Bradford University. She then became an assistant of Member of British Parliament Mike Hancock, a member of the Parliament’s Defence Select Committee.

As no meritorious and legally admissible evidence to MI5’s accusations against Katia became public during the hearing at the Special Immigration Appeals Commission, and since she obviously cannot prove the negative, the entire sexpionage matter remains a mystery for the public.

Why sexpionage? Because Katia Zatuliveter was also a lover of Mike Hancock, and British media says that she had access to Hancock’s documents, some of them were classified. Zatuliveter raised MI5’s attention for some time, and in August 2011 when she returned from a trip to Croatia she was questioned several times until arrested at the request of MI5.

“Zatuli Veter” translates in several Slavic languages to “howling wind,” a suitable name for a vivacious young woman blowing older men off their feet. Was it just a coincidence that at least three men falling for howling wind Katia had access to information that would make any intelligence case officer salivate: a Dutch diplomat, a UK Parliament member with access to classified documents and a senior NATO official?

Then there’s another unanswered question: if Katia is a spy, why the UK government wants her expelled instead of putting her on trial for espionage? The answer could be trifold: first, the evidence MI5 has against her could be more “raw intelligence data” than evidence admissible in court. That could include information obtained from a mole within Russian intelligence services working for Britain; or unauthorized eavesdropping and break-ins in the UK and perhaps also in foreign countries, and therefore, it cannot be presented in court, even behind closed doors, without triggering local and foreign complaints against MI5 agents; Even if the available evidence was obtained legally, MI5 could still be reluctant to disclose it. Disclosure would reveal surreptitious means and methods applied to unveil the suspected un-parliamentary relationship Katia allegedly had with the elderly Member of Parliament. More particularly, MI5 was probably investigating what Hancock allegedly gave her, if anything. Secondly, it appears that MI5 probably concluded that Katia was a small fish and they should just as well throw her back to the water — Russian waters, instead of pushing for a trial that would cost millions and at best send Katia to prison for only a few months. Thirdly, MI5 may have concluded that this is not the time to sour the UK-Russian intelligence services’ relationship which was on the colder side during the past several years. There was an alleged KGB assassination in London of Alexander Litvinenko a former intelligence officer of the Russian Federal Security Service FSB escaping from prosecution in Russia and receiving political asylum in the United Kingdom. He died from a lethal dose of polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome.

The Brits didn’t have to look far for precedence for expelling suspected Russian spies with just a slap on their wrist. In the United States, Anna Chapman (28) and 9 other Moscow moles were exchanged for four valued American secret agents. The spies for the West included a former colonel Alexander Zaporozhsky who provided information that led to the capture of American traitors Robert Hanssen and Aldrich Ames. The swap came a day after the 10 Russians admitted in a Manhattan federal courtroom they were Russian secret agents who had tried to pass as Americans. Federal Judge Kimba Wood sentenced them to time served — 11 days — and dispatched them to board a plane headed for Russia.

Moscow with an egg on its face was probably happy to take its ten moles back rather than have the public realize during trial that their clumsy moles unearthed nothing of value — and had been under the FBI prying eyes for years.

In the meanwhile Hancock resigned from his membership in the Defence Committee. In his letter of resignation he said, “It is not appropriate for me to provide running commentary on on-going legal proceedings; however, I would like to make clear that at no time did I pass on material to M.s Zatuliveter which was not in the public domain or which was classified.” It appears also that Hancock can now take a deep breath. The British government attempt to expel Katia signals also that there are no criminal proceedings contemplated against him. If there were such plans, the British government would have wanted Katia to remain in the UK and testify against Hancock at trial.

Such as in the U.S. case against Chapman and comrades, it is possible that Katia was cultivated more as a planted sleeper than as a spy. In these cases, the sending country instructs its sleepers to associate themselves with people who are expected to rise to a position of power, and when it happens, it would enhance their ability to influence policy or gather valuable information. Perhaps whoever planted Katia in Hancock’s vicinity hoped he’d become Minister of Defense or hold similarly important position. It is unlikely to happen now.

If Katia Zatuliveter is not a spy or a sleeper, then one question still remains unanswered: if it was not classified information that she was looking for from the married Hancock (65), 40 years her senior — then what she found so attractive about a man that looks a bit like your friendly grocer that made her continue with their affair for four years? Happens all the time.