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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

‘Women spies are useless’

Who said the Cold War was dead?

Latest spy scandal comes from the US, where a Russian spy cell was suspected of plotting a ‘Wall Street meltdown’. Igor Sporyshev, one of three alleged plotters, has been arrested; the other two fled the country; Russia claims there is no evidence against the trio. The FBI previously snared ten Russian spies in 2010, one of whom became quite notorious: Anna Chapman. She was arrested, along with nine others, on 27 June 2010, on suspicion of working for the Illegals Program, a spy ring under the Russian Federation's external intelligence agency, the SVR.

Anna Chapman - Wikipedia commons
Apparently, Anna Kushchyenko moved to London about 2003 and worked at a few companies, including Barclays. She met Alex Chapman at a party in London Docklands and they married shortly after in Moscow. She gained dual Russian–British citizenship (subsequently revoked) and a British passport.

After being formally charged, Chapman and the other nine detainees were part of a spy swap deal between the United States and Russia, the biggest of its kind since 1986. They returned to Russia via a chartered jet that landed at Vienna, where the swap occurred on the morning of 8 July 2010.

Since then Anna Chapman has received a mixed reception from Russians and the certain sections of the international circuit, in part due to her blatant self-publicity and raunchy photo-shoots. She has a twitter account, and is a TV personality in Russia.

According to today’s news reports, a conversion was taped by the FBI: Igor Sporyshev stated that it was misguided to value female secret agents. Apparently, he said, ‘I have lots of ideas about such girls but these ideas are not actionable because they don’t allow you to get close enough… you either have to have sex with them or use other levers to influence them to execute your requests.’

It has been bandied about that women make bad spies. According to one book,

All the great masters of espionage have distrusted women spies and feared them. Hitler’s spymaster Reinhard Heydrich opposed them on principle. Richard Sorge, the greatest spy of modern times, said, ‘Women are absolutely unfitted for espionage work. Intimate relations… arouse jealousy… and react to the detriment of the cause.’ … In other words, the secret service professionals know that women cannot keep their espionage assignments separate from their emotions and erotic instincts. – The Real World of Spies, Charles Wighton (1965).

The above chauvinist and provocative comments don’t do justice to the many female agents, some of whom gave their lives in WWII and afterwards – many of them unknown and unsung because of their work.

And of course one such person is Tana Standish, psychic spy of the 1970s and 1980s. Her first mission for the British Secret Intelligence Service occurred in 1965. (see my blog here).

The Prague Papers relates her second mission in Czechoslovakia in 1975, published by Crooked Cat books. It is followed on 17 February by The Tehran Text, her assignment in Iran in 1978. Both are e-books only.

 Available from Amazon UK here
and from Amazon COM here
1978. Iran is in ferment and the British Intelligence Service wants Tana Standish’s assessment. It appears that CIA agents are painting too rosy a picture, perhaps because they’re colluding with the state torturers… Allegiances and loyalties are strained as Tana’s mission becomes deadly and personal. Old friends are snatched, tortured and killed by SAVAK, the Shah’s secret police. She has to use all her skills as a secret agent and psychic to stay one step ahead of the oppressors and traitors.

As the country stumbles towards the Islamic Revolution, the Shah’s grip on power weakens. There’s real concern for the MI6 listening post near the Afghan border. Only Tana Standish is available to investigate; yet it’s possible she could be walking into a trap, as the deadly female Spetsnaz fighter Aksakov has been sent to abduct Tana. Meanwhile, in Kazakhstan, the sympathetic Yakunin, the psychic spy tracking Tana, is being sidelined by a killer psychic, capable of weakening Tana at the critical moment in combat with Aksakov. Can Yakunin save Tana without being discovered?

In the troubled streets of Iran’s ancient cities and amidst the frozen wastes on the Afghan border, Tana makes new friends and new enemies...
Reviews of The Prague Papers

... Well plotted and executed this is a story that held me enthralled and intrigued from the first page to the last...and then I read the epilogue, and I realised just how eye-opening this novel is. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m so relieved that there is more to come. - Amazon review, 21 Jan, 2015
Morton's heroine Tana is made of stern stuff... - Michael Parker, author of The Devil’s Trinity and The Third Secret

Interestingly, Morton sells it as a true story passed to him by an agent and published as fiction, a literary ploy often used by master thriller writer Jack Higgins. Let’s just say that it works better than Higgins. - Danny Collins, author of The Bloodiest Battles

gave me that feeling of “being there myself”, rubbing shoulders with his characters, and for quite a while after finishing it, I found myself thinking about them and all they had been through. - William Daysh, author of Over by Christmas

As well as creating memorable characters, Morton captures the essence of Prague and the Czech soul, educates us into the world of Eastern Bloc politics, and tells an intricate tale of espionage... - Maureen Moss, Travel journalist.


Available from Amazon COM here
And available from Amazon UK here



Alison Morton said...

Well, obviously, I'm going to disagree Charles Wight's patronising comment, as I'm sure you knew I would. He obviously didn't know his history, nor have any idea of men's inner life.

Nice provocative piece, Nik!

Nik said...

Thanks, Alison. Those views of course were written in the 1950s... wrong then, wrong now.