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CONDIT'S lawyer criticizes media coverage


WASHINGTON (AP) _ Hours after police questioned Rep. Gary Condit's wife about the disappearance of former federal intern Chandra Levy, Condit's lawyer took a swipe at media coverage of the California lawmaker's private life.

``As the fierce competition to fill pages, airtime and websites threatens to spin this story out of control, Congressman Condit has resisted and will continue to resist efforts by the media to dissect and mischaracterize his and his family's private lives,'' lawyer Abbe Lowell said in a statement.

Condit has faced questions about the nature of his relationship with Levy, whom he has described as a ``great person and good friend.'' Levy's mother, Susan, has said her daughter was seeing Condit.

This week, flight attendant Anne Marie Smith claimed she had a 10-month affair with Condit. Neither Condit nor his aides have addressed Smith's allegations.

Condit, 53, accompanied his wife, Carolyn, from their home in Ceres, Calif., to Washington, where she met Thursday with investigators, Lowell said.

He offered no details about the meeting and indicated that Condit, D-Calif., will continue his public silence about Levy, whose hometown of Modesto, Calif., is in Condit's district.

``The congressman hopes and believes that the caring public will not confuse his well-founded reasons for not fueling a misguided media frenzy with his ... continued willingness to speak with those professionals who are working day and night to find Chandra Levy,'' the statement said.

Police have said they wanted to question Mrs. Condit because she was on a rare trip to Washington when Levy disappeared and because they hoped she could shed more light on her husband's relationship with Levy. Mrs. Condit arrived in Washington April 28 and returned to California May 3, said Condit's chief of staff, Mike Lynch.

Levy, 24, of Modesto, Calif., was last seen April 30 at a Washington health club. Her internship at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons had ended and she was planning to return home to attend her graduation ceremony at the University of Southern California.

Police Chief Charles Ramsey said in a news conference Thursday that officers have interviewed 100 people about Levy. Police also have used cadaver-sniffing dogs to search some area landfills, he said.

``The good news is we haven't found anything that indicates she's met with foul play. The bad news is that we haven't found anything at all, period,'' Ramsey said.

A search of her apartment found nothing missing but her keys. Police have no evidence of a crime, no suggestion that Levy ran off, no similarities between Levy's case and those of other missing persons, Ramsey said.

Condit canceled appearances at three Independence Day parades in his central California district, telling organizers he didn't want to be a distraction.

``Unlike some, Congressman Condit remains singularly focused on what is ... the central mission at this time _ locating Chandra Levy,'' Lowell said.
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