‘Washington Times’ Letter Was Forged

By: The Associated Press

(AP) A U.S. ambassador said Tuesday a letter published in a newspaper with his name and title that was critical of career diplomats is a “complete and utter fabrication.” The newspaper acknowledged it failed to authenticate the letter and believes it was a forgery.

Stephan M. Minikes, the envoy to the Vienna-based Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the letter that appeared in Tuesday editions of The Washington Times was written by an impostor.

“It was not written by me and it expresses views that are diametrically opposite to the views I hold,” Minikes wrote in letter to the Times. “It is a shame that your verification procedures allowed such a forgery to slip through and be printed.”

He also praised State Department professionals as dedicated and “absolutely committed to executing” President Bush’s policies. The published letter said many career diplomats were uncomfortable with implementing Bush administration policies.

Wesley Pruden, the Times‘ editor in chief, said the newspaper failed to follow its policy of verifying all letters to the editor before publishing them and was told of the forgery by the State Department.

“We accept as true that the ambassador was not the author of this letter,” Pruden said in a statement. “The Times regrets the embarrassment, which we fully share, to the ambassador and to the State Department.”

He said the letter sent Sunday appeared to be from the ambassador’s e-mail address at the State Department. “We are reviewing our procedures and will make changes as necessary,” Pruden said.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the letter originated in the department’s electronic mail system and officials would work with the paper to see if perhaps someone had hacked into Minikes’ e-mail account.

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