The State Department said this week it is closely following the case of an American citizen who was arrested and charged by Panama with running a sophisticated underground radio station for the U.S. government.

Kurt Frederick Muse, an American citizen living in Panama and married to an American employee of the Defense Department in Panama, was arrested April 7 by Panamanian authorities at Omar Torrijos International Airport.According to Panamanian authorities, Muse "confessed to working for the U.S. State Department in a plan to create chaos and to destabilize the country during the May 7 elections."

A State Department official, who declined to be identified, said, in response to the charges, "We never comment on intelligence matters."

A U.S. consular official has seen Muse once in custody and Muse has been shown on Panama's national television station during an appearance in which he was asked by Panamanian official if he had been "physically tortured." Muse replied: "Never."

"We are closely monitoring the case," the State Department press office said. The State Department confirmed that Muse is an American citizen but refused any comment on whether he had any connection to the U.S. government.

In Panama, U.S. Consul Gary Usrey told reporters that Muse was undergoing lengthy questioning and had not been provided with legal counsel, which would be a violation of the consular treaty between the two countries.

In his appearance on Panamanian television, Muse said the original plan had been that the clandestine broadcasts would encourage Panamanians to vote in the May 7 presidential elections.