Vicky Pelaez: Can someone be married to a Russian spy and not know it?
Vicky Pelaez: A willing spy for Russia or a wife deeply betrayed? Or something in between? Exactly what the Peruvian journalist knew is one of the more tantalizing mysteries to emerge from the Russian spy saga.
Diario La Republica/AP/File
Yonkers, New York
Vicky Pelaez met her husband, Juan Lazaro — or so he called himself — some 30 years ago in her native Peru. She was a gutsy TV reporter, he a talented photographer and a karate black belt. "To her, he was a hunk," a friend says.
Soon, the two were married and living in a leafy New York suburb, raising a young son along with Vicky's older one, proudly watching him develop into a talented pianist. And now, three decades later, with the family suddenly torn asunder, her lawyer says she likely never even knew Juan's real name: Mikhail Vasenkov.
It's one of the more tantalizing mysteries to emerge from the spy saga that has entranced the world over the past 12 days: Could a wife be in the dark even as to her husband's very name?
And the broader question: Was Pelaez, deported Thursday in a spy swap along with her husband, an enthusiastic secret agent — who like him, was willing to put her loyalty to Moscow over that of her children? Or was she a wife betrayed?
One thing was clear on Friday, hours after Pelaez, 55, and Vasenkov, 66, arrived in Vienna, en route to Moscow: A family was in tatters.
In Yonkers, a gaggle of journalists was parked outside the family's two-story, brick and stucco home, with a patio, dog house and wading pool in the yard, waiting to talk to the couple's 17-year-old son, Juan Jr., and his stepbrother Waldo Mariscal, 38, an architect.
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