Several FBI employees have been recalled from cities across Asia in recent months while the Justice Department’s inspector general examines allegations related to parties and interactions with prostitutes, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The probe involves FBI personnel in half a dozen cities, including in East and Southeast Asia, the Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
The exact nature of the allegations against the FBI personnel and where the incidents allegedly took place couldn’t be determined, according to the Journal.
In a statement to CNN, the FBI said: “All FBI employees are held to the highest standards of conduct, and allegations against any employee are taken very seriously.”
“Upon learning of these allegations of misconduct,” the statement continues, “action was taken to reassign certain personnel to non-operational roles while the allegations are reviewed. No additional information will be provided, as the FBI has referred the matter to the DOJ Office of Inspector General.”
A spokesman for the inspector general declined to comment to the Journal.
Although the vast majority of the FBI’s approximately 36,000 employees are based in the United States, the bureau maintains a large presence of special agents and support staff in embassies across the world who work with foreign law enforcement agencies on matters of mutual interest. These permanently assigned international personnel are augmented by FBI global response teams based in the United States, which frequently deploy overseas to conduct investigations.
FBI officials have been particularly concerned about prostitutes because of the potential for foreign intelligence services to compromise FBI agents or other US embassy personnel, the Journal reports, citing people familiar with the matter.
Another US law enforcement agency, the Secret Service, disciplined nearly a dozen agents in 2012 amid allegations of interactions with prostitutes in Colombia while preparing for a visit by President Barack Obama.
In 2015, US Drug Enforcement Administration agents in foreign postings attended sex parties with prostitutes paid for by drug cartels, a Justice Department inspector general report found.
CNN’s Josh Campbell and Evan Perez contributed to this report.