Ronan Farrow on the Black Cube Agent Who Spied on Weinstein Accuser Rose McGowan

Ronan Farrow - American Magazine Media Conference 2018 - Getty-H 2018

In the second excerpt from his new book, 'Catch and Kill,' he writes about a woman who used the name Diana Filip and got close to the actress as part of the intelligence firm's work.

The New Yorker on Tuesday morning published a second excerpt from Ronan Farrow's new book, Catch and Kill, in which the journalist details how Black Cube spies closely monitored him as he was working on his reports about sexual misconduct allegations against Harvey Weinstein, published in the fall of 2017.

Weinstein has denied all allegations of nonconsensual sex.

In the second of three installments this week on the New Yorker's website about the work of Black Cube, a private intelligence agency based in London, Tel Aviv and Madrid, Farrow writes about a woman who spied on Rose McGowan for Weinstein.

The excerpt starts in October 2016 when writer Ben Wallace, who was at the time looking into rumors of sexual harassment and assault swirling around the producer for New York magazine, got a call from a woman who identified herself only as "Anna," said she had heard about his assignment and added: "I might have something that might be of importance for you."

Describing their first meeting, he writes: "As they talked, she leaned in, conspicuously extending her wrist toward him. Wallace began to suspect that he was being recorded." After a couple of meetings and Anna claiming she had had a consensual affair with Weinstein, a suspicious Wallace stopped returning her calls, according to the excerpt.

Farrow writes that a woman looking like Anna also met McGowan using the name Diana Filip, who identified herself as the deputy head of sustainable and responsible investments at a London-based wealth management firm. They met at the Peninsula hotel in Beverly Hills, and soon became close and met up regularly.

Farrow eventually reveals that the woman was actually a Black Cube agent named Stella Penn Pechanac, describing her and others’ role as "trying to befriend sources and reporters on behalf of Black Cube."

Farrow writes that "McGowan began to let her guard down" and recounts how the agent eventually also reached out to him. 

The child of a Bosnian Muslim mother and a Serbian Orthodox father, Pechanac "was born between two worlds and belonged to none," Farrow writes and explains how her interest in acting eventually led her to her Black Cube work. "For Pechanac, the job at Black Cube presented an ideal compromise: its operatives were trained to conduct psyops — psychological operations designed to manipulate a mark. Like the best actors, they were students of body language, of the tics that expose lying or vulnerability. They knew how to read those signs in others and how to deploy them convincingly themselves. They wore costumes and used technology straight out of spy thrillers, like camera watches and recording pens."

What did the agent think of Weinstein and the allegations against him? "Pechanac has said that she was unaware of many of the allegations against Weinstein during the operation,” Farrow highlights. And he quotes her telling Israel’s Channel 12: "At the time he was really not a monster."