A senior Australian Defense Intelligence official who was under investigation for mishandling documents was found dead Saturday at his Arlington home, the victim of an apparent suicide, officials said yesterday.
A relative found the hanged body of Mervyn Jenkins, 48, stationed at the Australian Embassy in Washington for the last two years, at 6:20 a.m. in the house, in the 6000 block of Second Street.
"This is being investigated as a suicide," said Justin McNaull, a spokesman for Arlington County police. "There's no reason to believe that there's anything more involved."
Jenkins was under investigation and was cooperating with Australian authorities, said Chris Wordsworth, a spokesman for the defense ministry in Canberra. "There was no damage done to Australia's national security. He wasn't trying to steal secrets," Wordsworth said.
Wordsworth and officials with the Australian Embassy in Washington said that the Jenkins incident was not linked to last month's arrest of another Australian intelligence official, Jean-Philippe Wispelaere, who has been charged with trying to sell U.S. secrets to a foreign country. The FBI said it was not investigating Jenkins.
"There is no relationship or association between Wispelaere and this individual," said Susan Lloyd, a spokeswoman for the FBI's Washington field office.
Wispelaere, 28, worked for the Australian Defense Intelligence Organization for six months ending in January 1999, and allegedly stole more than 900 highly sensitive documents and photographs that were generated by U.S. intelligence agencies, and shared with the Australian government.
The Jenkins case "is in no way related to the Wispelaere matter," said a spokesman for the Australian Embassy, who asked that he not be identified as a matter of government policy.
"The long and short of it from this embassy's perspective and government's is that this is a very personal tragedy," he said. "The ambassador and many of his colleagues have been very affected by it and extend their sympathy to the family."