Politics & Government

FBI investigated ex-Defense Dept. official for espionage

Alberto Coll, a Cuban American who lost a senior job at the Navy War College after he was convicted of lying about a trip to Havana, was also investigated for espionage, according to an FBI document.

Coll was never charged with espionage, and has long denied any wrongdoing beyond the 2004 trip, which he declared was to see a sick aunt. His lawyer acknowledged he had visited a "girlfriend."

Five years after the trip, the Department of Justice refuses to release details of the investigation of the former deputy assistant secretary of defense, saying the files are classified as "Secret."

In a response to a Miami Herald request for all FBI records on his case, a bureau official wrote an Aug. 25 declaration explaining why the documents were classified.

"Specifically, the FBI's investigation focused on espionage and censorship in violation 18 USC 793, fraud and false statements in violation of 18 USC 1001 and foreign registration act" wrote David M. Hardy, head of the Record/Information Dissemination section at FBI headquarters' Records Management Division.

The "foreign registration act" requires agents of foreign governments to register with the State Department, and is sometimes used to accuse spies.

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