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Philippines to Cooperate with US Officials on Spy Case

Philippine Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales says his country would like to cooperate in the probe of a former U.S. Marine who is charged with passing classified information about Philippine leaders to current and former officials of the nation.

U.S. officials say the Federal Bureau of Investigation is probing whether former U.S. Marine Leandro Aragoncillo took classified information from the White House when he worked in the vice president's office from 1999 to 2001.

Mr. Aragoncillo is a 21-year veteran of the Marines and became an FBI intelligence analyst last year.

He has been charged in New Jersey with stealing classified information about Philippine leaders from FBI computers and sending it to current and former Philippine officials. U.S. authorities say, a possible White House angle is being probed.

Mr. Aragoncillo was born in the Philippines, but is a U.S. citizen.

An FBI criminal complaint made public last month said some of the material went to Michael Ray Aquino, a former Philippine police official living in New York City.

In addition, a Philippine opposition figure, Senator Panfilo Lacson, has admitted that he received some information from Mr. Aquino. But he played down the value of the material.

Philippine Justice Secretary Raul Gonzales told VOA he would like to help U.S. authorities, but the FBI has not responded to a letter he sent after the case became public last month.

"We would like to cooperate with them, if there is anything they need from our end. But as of now we consider that is a purely American criminal case," he said. "And we can only wait until there will be a necessity for us to furnish something."

Secretary Gonzales said relations between Washington and Manila remain good, but the investigation could have some internal implications for the Philippines.

"[The] U.S. is a friendly country to us. So I do not think there is really any serious damage that is there. But there may be things there that might embarrass some people here," he said.

The federal prosecutor in New Jersey last month said there is no evidence that the administration of Philippine President Gloria Arroyo is involved in the matter.