Mexican official accused of lifting White House BlackBerrys

Aide to Mexico's president loses his job in diplomatic flap over whether he stole the devices or--as he claims--took them to return them to their proper owners.

Did he or didn't he?

An aide to Mexico's president has lost his job after allegedly swiping BlackBerrys off a table outside of diplomatic talks taking place in New Orleans this week, according to several media reports.

Rafael Quintero Curiel, who coordinated Mexican journalists who follow the president, was confronted Tuesday by Secret Service agents at the New Orleans airport and then by Mexican officials once he returned home.

An initial story on Fox News on Thursday claimed he took six or seven BlackBerrys belonging to White House officials. Later reports say he took two of the wireless e-mail devices.

Cell phones and other electronic devices are customarily not allowed into diplomatic talks and are left outside on tables.

Video surveillance cameras apparently caught Curiel taking the devices, which is how the Secret Service agents were able to track him down so quickly.

Curiel, however, has come to his own defense, claiming that the whole thing was a misunderstanding. In a letter sent to news media on Friday, Curiel said he was concerned that the BlackBerrys had been left behind and took them only in order to return them to their proper owners.

Mexican officials apparently didn't believe him and said they "deeply regret" the incident, according to a report Saturday in the New Orleans Times-Picayune.

The White House said the BlackBerrys were recovered but declined further comment.

 

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