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American accused by Russia denies claims

September 04, 2008|From the Associated Press

GUANGZHOU, CHINA — Russian officials have said Michael Lee White was a U.S. agent involved in the recent fighting between their troops and Georgia. They claim to have found the Army veteran's passport in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia.

But in his cramped teacher's apartment at a business college in southern China, the American said Wednesday that he'd never been to Georgia.

When the five-day war was raging last month, White said, he was in his hometown of Austin, Texas, caring for his sick father.

The CIA denied that White was working for it.

White thinks the passport the Russians have is one he lost during a flight from Moscow to New York in October 2005. White said he reported his lost passport and was given a new one the same year.

"It still seems bizarre that they would make accusations like that with so little evidence," said White, a soft-spoken English teacher.

Russian officials have suggested that Americans directly supported Georgia's Aug. 7 assault on South Ossetia, which is backed by Russia.

Russian Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, showed reporters a copy of what he said was White's passport Aug. 28.

He said it was found in a basement among items that belonged to retreating Georgian soldiers.

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