Russian 'spy' is nice Jewish girl

Anna Fermanova

Anna Fermanova

A Latvian-born American beautician arrested for trying to smuggle night-vision equipment to Russia is actually just “a nice Jewish girl”, according to her lawyer.

Anna Fermanova, 24, was stopped by police in March after they found two rifles and other restricted items allegedly concealed in a pair of Ugg boots as she boarded a Moscow-bound flight.

She claimed they were for her Russian husband to use when he went hunting. Her unusual luggage was confiscated but she was allowed to travel to Moscow, where she stayed teaching English for four months.

But following the wider investigation into a Russian spy-ring operating in the United States, Ms Fermanova was apprehended by police when she returned home to Texas on July 15.

She has now been charged with "knowingly and intentionally" trying to export "defence articles on the United States Munitions list" and could face up to ten years in jail when she appears in court this summer. She is under house arrest and her passport has been confiscated.

Scott Palmer, her lawyer said the case "looks a lot worse than it really is," and that all her purchases had been legal.

He said: "There's no terrorism link. There's no espionage."

Ms Fermanova, a communications student at the University of Phoenix, moved with her Jewish family to Dallas when she was nine.

Her looks have led to comparisons with redheaded Russian spy Anna Chapman, who was among the nine people from suburban America arrested in June.

Last updated: 3:38pm, July 28 2010