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Pair charged on Philippine spying

U.S.: No indication of Arroyo government involvement

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Philippines
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
United States

NEW YORK (CNN) -- An FBI intelligence analyst and a former official with the Philippines National Police were ordered Monday to remain jailed on charges they passed classified U.S. information to current and former members of the Filipino government.

Leandro Aragoncillo, 46, a former U.S. Marine who has been working as an FBI intelligence analyst since July 2004, and Michael Aquino, 39, a Filipino citizen who was in the United States on an expired visa, appeared before U.S. Magistrate Patty Schwartz in federal court in Manhattan.

The two did not enter pleas during Monday's hearing. No bail was set, and the U.S. Attorney's office has asked for 10 days to assess Aquino's immigration status.

Both were arrested Saturday.

Leslie Wiser Jr., the FBI agent-in-charge, said it was "disheartening" to take into custody one of his own.

U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie told reporters that there was no information to indicate any possible terrorist activity. The Philippines government has been a major U.S. ally in the ongoing war on terror.

Christie also said there was no evidence that Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo nor "any member of her administration was involved in this."

According to a criminal complaint, Aragoncillo allegedly used an FBI database at the Fort Monmouth Information Technology Center to search, download and print classified documents concerning the Philippines.

Using Yahoo and Hotmail accounts, he allegedly sent e-mails -- often with classified documents attached -- to at least three people in the Philippines, including current and former government officials.

The complaint alleges that between May 1 and August 15 of this year, Aragoncillo either printed or downloaded 101 classified documents dealing with the Philippines, of which 37 were classified at the "secret" level.

Aquino, who once served as a deputy director of the Philippines National Police, is also accused of passing classified information on to Filipino officials.

Both defendants are charged with one count of conspiracy and one count of acting as an unregistered agent subject to the direction of a foreign official.

If found guilty, the conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a fine of $250,000, while the other charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000.

Aragoncillo also is charged with one count of unauthorized use of a government computer to obtain and transmit classified information to people not entitled to receive the information. That charge carries a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Michael Aquino is not related to former Philippine President Corazon Aquino, officials said.

From CNN Producer Kevin Huffman

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