Anna Chapman, the glamorous Russian spy, was close to seducing a sitting member of President Barack Obama's cabinet before she was deported from the United States, a senior US official has revealed.
Frank Figliuzzi, the FBI's assistant director of counterintelligence, said Miss Chapman's handlers at Russia's SVR (Foreign Intelligence Service) had intended her to be a "honeytrap" and she had got "closer and closer to higher and higher ranking leadership".
He added: "She got close enough to disturb us." Chapman, now 30, was one of ten "illegals" – Russian sleeper agents – who were ejected from the US in July 2010 after their attempts at spying were monitored for several years by the FBI.
The group was previously thought to have been mostly harmless. FBI surveillance suggested the spies were tasked with penetrating US policy-making circles but garnered no sensitive information.
However, Mr Figliuzzi said the fear of Miss Chapman ensnaring a particular cabinet member was one of the prime reasons that FBI agents swooped on the Russian spy ring.
"We were becoming very concerned," he told the BBC's Modern Spies [[correct]] programme. "They were getting close enough to a sitting US cabinet member that we thought we could no longer allow this to continue."
Mr Figliuzzi refused to name the individual concerned but made clear that Miss Chapman caused particular alarm. "I think part of her value was indeed her ability to be engaging, charismatic and I think to that extent she might have been viewed by them [the SVR] as a potential honey trap," he said. "She was getting closer and closer to higher and higher ranking leadership."
Mr Figliuzzi said the cabinet member was warned of the threat.
Miss Chapman has become a minor celebrity since returning to Russia, posing for men's magazines, launching her own television show about the paranormal and modelling at catwalk fashion shows.
She and the other illegals were awarded with state medals and they got together with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to sing a sentimental Soviet song about a Russian spy.
Miss Chapman also became an adviser to Molodaya Gvardiya (Young Guard), the youth wing of Putin's United Russia party.
Before moving to the United States, Miss Chapman, whose maiden name was Kushchenko, married an Englishman and spent four years until 2008 living in Britain.
In summer 2010, it was reported that during her time in the UK Miss Chapman frequented nightclubs visited by Princes William and Harry such as Boujis, Movida and Tramp. M15 were said to be checking whether the Russian spy had targeted the royals.