A former partner of an arms dealer named Abhishek Verma has said that BJP MP, Varun Gandhi was honeytrapped into leaking information about defence matters. It was also alleged that Gandhi was blackmailed with photographs taken with foreign escorts.
Varun Gandhi, however, has denied the allegations and said that if this is even one per cent true, he would quit politics.
Sex and seduction in espionage is something that has been used forever. It is often used against army and intelligence officials and sometimes against politicians. In simple words, a honeytrap is a trick used by intelligence agencies to get information.
A honeytrap refers to a strategy of using an attractive person to entrap or get information from someone. The term 'honeytrap' was first used in the world of espionage.
There have been several cases of honeytraps reported from across the world. Influential officials and politicians have fallen victim to this age old trick and have passed on sensitive information.
One of the most famous cases that comes to mind in this context is that of Mata Hari or Margaretha Geertruida. A Dutch exotic dancer and courtesan, she was convicted of being a spy. She was executed by the firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I.
Some famous honey trap cases
One of the most famous cases in India is that of K V Unnikrishnan, an officer with the Research and Analysis Wing. He had been honeytrapped by a Pan Am airhostess, who in reality was a US intelligence officer.
Unnikrishnan was posted at the R&AW office in Chennai and was dealing with the LTTE. He was arrested and jailed in 1987 on charges of leaking out sensitive information.
Another case from India reported in the 1990s was of an officer at the Naval attache in Islamabad. He was alleged to have been honeytrapped by a nurse in Karachi and lured into leaking information for the ISI.
While he tried to convince the authorities in India that he had appointed her to work for India, on interrogating him further, he broke down and confessed. He was dismissed from service, but not jailed as no concrete information about him passing on information could be found.
The case relating to a Liberal Democratic MP, Mike Hancock too had made headlines. A 26-year-old Russian named Katia Zatuliveter is said to have had an affair with the MP from UK. The MP was part of the defence committee of the British Parliament. While the MI5 wanted to deport her, she filed a case under the special immigration commission. Her case was upheld.
In the 1950s, an Indian diplomat was honeytrapped in Moscow. After being confronted by the KGB, who had pictures of him with the woman, he informed the Indian ambassador about the issue. Jawaharlal Nehru, who was also the external affairs minister at that time, let him off with a caution.
Another case in recent times was that of Madhuri Gupta. She was posted as the second secretary, press and information at the Indian High Commission in Islamabad. She was arrested in 2010 on the charges of passing on information to ISI agents whom she had befriended.
In 2010, Anna Chapman, a Russian national, was arrested on suspicion of working for the Illegals Program spy ring under the Russian Federation's external intelligence agency, the SVR. She was to befriend American politicians and gather sensitive data and classified information. She was arrested and pleaded guilty. Chapman, however, was deported to Russia as part of a prisoner swap.
In 2014, Benjamin Bishop, a US Defence Contractor pleaded guilty to giving up state secrets to his mistress who was a 27-year-old Chinese national. He had an affair with her for three years and is said to have shared several defence secrets.