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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Says Diplomat Caught in Sex Smear

U.S. Ambassador John Beyrle has complained to the Foreign Ministry that one of his diplomats was targeted in a fake sex videotape meant to smear his reputation.

A heavily edited video surfaced on the Internet in early August that purported to show Kyle Hatcher, a second secretary at the U.S. Embassy, meeting with prostitutes.

But Beyrle said security experts at the U.S. State Department had found that the video was faked and that Hatcher had done nothing wrong.

“This kind of effort to discredit an American diplomat really has no place in the sort of relationship that we are trying to build” with Russia, Beyrle said in an interview broadcast on U.S. ABC News on Wednesday.

Hatcher’s work probably drew the ire of “an element” of the Russian government that disliked “his job description,” Beyrle said, according to a transcript of the interview posted on Abcnews.go.com.

Hatcher, who is married, is the embassy’s point man on relations with religious and human rights groups in Russia.

Unidentified U.S. officials told ABC News that the Federal Security Service had produced the video in an attempt to either recruit or discredit the diplomat. They said that the video appeared on the Internet after Hatcher rejected a blackmail approach.

The goal was to “smear him in the eyes of his contacts,” Beyrle said.

The Foreign Ministry promised to release a statement on its web site in response to the report, but none had been posted late Thursday.

Federal Security Service officials could not be immediately reached for comment.

The video, which was quickly picked up by national media, sprinkles images of Hatcher with photos of topless women and shows footage of a man talking on his cell phone on a snowy street, supposedly arranging a meeting with prostitutes. It then shows a man and a woman undressing in room, but the lighting conditions are too poor to identify anybody.

A senior State Department official told ABC News that the man talking on his cell phone is Hatcher. The official said the footage had been captured by Moscow street surveillance cameras about five years ago.

“Clearly the video was a montage of a lot of different clips, some of them clearly fabricated,” Beyrle said.

“I have full confidence in [Hatcher], and he is going to continue his work here in the embassy,” he said.

The video surfaced just weeks after a British diplomat in Yekaterinburg resigned after appearing in an online video having sex with two prostitutes.

The incident also followed President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow in July, where he and President Dmitry Medvedev pledged to improve U.S.-Russian relations.

The U.S. Embassy refused to comment further on the matter Thursday. A spokesman noted, however, that Beyrle had given the television interview on Sept. 11 and the embassy had sent the official complaint to the Foreign Ministry “well before” that.