A U.S. soldier has been charged with espionage for allegedly handing over "national defense" information to communist East Germany, the U.S. military said Thursday.

American military authorities said they filed the charges against Spec. 4 Michael A. Peri, who recently disappeared for 11 days near the East German border. He later turned himself in to military authorities.In a statement sent to the news media, the U.S. Army said Peri "has been charged with espionage - communicating documents andor information relating to national defense to the German Democratic Republic (GDR)."

The statement said Peri was charged with "moving classified documents to the GDR and transfer of classified information to unauthorized persons."

It provided no further details about the information allegedly handed over to the East Germans.

Peri disappeared Feb. 21 from the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment in Fulda, 65 miles northeast of Frankfurt.

Some officials speculated that he defected after a military vehicle he signed out was found Feb. 23 near the town of Obersuhl, a remote rural area near the East German border.

U.S. officials said Peri worked as an electronics warfare signal specialist. He was responsible for operating equipment that detects enemy radar and other signals.