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Suspended diplomat seeks pension; spy pleads poor

Saying he was never convicted of being disloyal to his country, former diplomat Felix S. Bloch has gone to court to force the State Department to restore his pension.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court, Bloch's attorneys argue that their client is entitled to his pension even though had been accused of "questionable activities involving national security."Bloch, now 62, resigned in 1990 after the State Department scheduled a hearing to force him out of the Foreign Service. He was suspended without pay "in the interests of national security" after being observed passing a briefcase to a Soviet agent in Paris in 1989.

A former charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Bloch was investigated by the FBI but never prosecuted for espionage.

A well-publicized surveillance of Bloch featured news camera crews following FBI agents who were shadowing Bloch as he made his daily rounds in Washington.

Justice Department prosecutors were unable to find key evidence that Bloch passed secret documents to a foreign power, according to law enforcement sources.

Bloch's lawsuit contends that his resignation was "without prejudice to his retirement benefits."

Bloch is living in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he drives a bus, his lawyer said.