WASHINGTON (AP) Is it a phony video hit job or a real sex tape capturing married American diplomat Kyle Hatcher with a Russian prostitute?
Frankly the footage is too dark to figure much of anything out, but the State Department is adamant that the video, which was first shown on a Russian Web site, is fake.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow has complained to the Russian Foreign Ministry, calling the sex tape a smear of an American diplomat.
The State Department says the video is a fabricated montage that includes some real footage of Hatcher, a diplomatic liaison to Russian religious and human rights groups.
"Mr. Hatcher has been the subject of a smear campaign in the Russian press and on the Internet to discredit him and his work," said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly. "We deplore this type of smear campaign."
The video, shown on ABC news' website, shows Hatcher making telephone calls on a darkened street. Then it cuts to a hotel room, where Hatcher can be seen in a lit hotel room, apparently from a hidden camera. Later the video appears to show a man and a woman having sex in the same room with the lights off. The man's identity cannot be discerned from the picture.
In an interview recorded with ABC news, U.S. ambassador to Russia John Beyrle blamed the Russian government.
"Clearly the video we saw was a montage of lot of different clips, some of which are clearly fabricated," he told ABC. "We had our security office back in Washington take a look at that and they are convinced Kyle has done nothing wrong. I have full confidence in him, and he is going to continue his work here at the embassy."
In Moscow, neither the foreign ministry nor the FFB, the Russian security service, could be reached for comment late Wednesday.