WASHINGTON – Syria (search)'s ambassador to the United Nations said Monday his government has had no contact with a Syrian-born U.S. Air Force supply clerk charged with sending classified information about a prison camp in Cuba to the government in Damascus.
In fact, Mekdad told Fox News in an interview, Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa had instructed the Syrian Embassy in Washington to cooperate fully with the Bush administration in dealing with the situation.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Sunday that the U.S. government was trying to determine if Syria had engaged in espionage against the United States in light of an investigation of possible security breaches at a prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
"We are looking into it and we'll see what's there," Rice said.
Al-Halabi is charged with espionage for allegedly e-mailing classified information about the camp to an unspecified enemy and planning to give other secrets about the prison to a person traveling to Syria.
He also is accused of not reporting unauthorized contacts with the Syrian Embassy, but his military lawyer has said those contacts were to arrange for a trip to Syria to get married.
Mekdad said Syria "absolutely" denied any involvement with terrorists worldwide and was cooperating with the United States on terrorism.
"Syria has saved American lives in this respect," the ambassador said.
Al-Halabi is of Syrian origin, Mekdad said, "so there should be documentation if he wanted to travel to Syria to see his parents, to see his family, but nothing more than that."