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U.S./Yugoslavia: Washington Withdraws Contentious Diplomat

Washington, 29 March 2002 (RFE/RL) -- State Department spokesman Richard Boucher says the United States has withdrawn from Yugoslavia the American diplomat who was arrested in Belgrade in mid-March and accused of receiving military secrets. The U.S. has never identified the diplomat, but a Yugoslav military court said he was John David Neighbor, a first secretary. Washington has declined to comment on reports he was the Central Intelligence Agency station chief in the Yugoslav capital, Belgrade.

The diplomat was arrested at a restaurant on 14 March and held for 17 hours of questioning despite his protestations of diplomatic immunity.

The Yugoslav Army said it has evidence that former Yugoslav Army chief Momcilo Perisic passed military secrets to the diplomat. The U.S. issued a denial and protested that the diplomat was, in its words, arrested and physically assaulted.

Boucher said yesterday that the diplomat left about a week ago.