Attache reportedly 'compromised'

A military atteche at the US Embassy in Moscow has hurriedly left for home after a bid by Soviet intelligence agents to compromise him, diplomatic sources here say.

Various versions of what exactly happened have been percolating in the diplomatic community, writes Monitor correspondent Ned Temko. At this writing, Feb. 16, key questions remained unanswered -- including whether the reported Soviet scheme was linked to the man's candidacy for a job with US Vice-President George Bush.

When the attache, Maj. James Holbrook, suddenly left in mid-January -- so suddenly that he neglected to cancel at least one engagement with friends -- some US Embassy officials privately explained the departure with reports of the Bush job possibility.

But at least soon diplomats quesions how serious the reported job prospect was -- and, crucially, whether the Soviets would have known about it -- since at least two other explanations for Major Holbrook's absence have made the rounds of friends and colleagues.

US Embassy officials told reporters Feb. ul they would neither confirm nor deny the reports from other diplomatic sources that Major Holbrook had been lured to a party in the Ukraine and that intelligence agents there had somehow attempted to compromise him.

One Embassy source did point out, however, that the reports were reminiscent of other such incidents involving foreign diplomat stationed in the Soviet Union in years past.

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