WARSAW — Poland today ordered the expulsion of the U.S. military attache after accusing him of taking photographs of military installations.
Government spokesman Jerzy Urban also denied a U.S. Embassy protest alleging that Col. Frederick Myer's wife, Barbara, was stripped naked and treated "improperly" after being arrested with her husband.
Urban told Western journalists that Poland's Foreign Ministry had classified Myer as persona non grata-- a diplomatic euphemism for those caught spying--and ordered him to leave the country within 48 hours.
Urban said Polish security service officers detained Myer and his wife last Thursday after they were observed taking photographs from their car in a "prohibited military zone" near the town of Przasnysz, 60 miles north of Warsaw.
Stopped at Roadblock
Myer and his wife were stopped at a police roadblock in the town of Makow Mazowiecki, about 20 miles south of Przasnysz, Urban said.
Urban said that Polish authorities had rejected a protest note from the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw dated Friday, which complained that after being detained by police Barbara Myer was forced to undress.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Bernard Kalb would not say whether Myer was engaged in espionage activities. "We do not comment on intelligence matters," he said. "I add to that there was absolutely no justification for the actions taken by Polish officials against Myer and his wife."
Strong Protest Lodged
"We have registered a strong U.S. government protest both here and in Warsaw informing Polish officials that the behavior of their security officials is entirely unacceptable. We expect the responsible officials to be disciplined and expect that such behavior will not occur," he added.
As to whether the incident will affect U.S.-Polish relations, Kalb said, "Of course it will."
Urban said the U.S. protest note was "libelous" and contained "false facts." He denied that Barbara Myer had been mistreated and said that she was searched by women police officers to determine whether any items were hidden in her clothes.
Urban said Myer and his wife had been spotted near Przasnysz driving a Volvo with Danish registration plates.
"He entered a military area despite the signs forbidding it," said Urban. "A man and woman were inside the car who were taking pictures."
The car drove off toward the city of Makow Mazowiecki where the police stopped it at a roadblock, Urban said.
Urban said Myer and a woman who was later identified as his wife locked the car windows and covered themselves with a blanket.
"They refused to show their identity cards and showed V-signs with their fingers to the police through the window," Urban said.
'Funny Was to Act'
"It was a funny way of reacting, taking into account that it was a military attache representing one of the superpowers," he said.
Later the two surrendered and identified themselves in the police station at Makow Mazowiecki, Urban said. He displayed a stack of photographs taken by the police showing a man and a woman inside the car flashing V-signs.
"Six reels of exposed film were found with Myer and his wife, maps of Polish military objects made by the Defense Mapping Agency Topographic Center and one unexposed frame which after developing showed a military aerial installation," Urban added.