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Intern had relationship with Condit, aunt says

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WASHINGTON — The aunt of Chandra Ann Levy, a 24-year-old federal intern who was last seen April 30, said Friday that her niece had a romantic relationship with Rep. Gary A. Condit, whom she criticized as hindering the search for her niece.

The aunt, Linda Zamsky, said the Levy family was "frustrated and outraged" that Condit had described Levy as only a friend, and she accused the congressman of impeding the search.

"From my many conversations with her, it was clear, without a doubt, that they were involved in an intimate relationship," Zamsky said, referring to discussions with Levy that began last November.

In a statement released Friday by a public relations firm, Zamsky added, "We believe that Representative Condit's lack of candor is hindering efforts to find Chandra."

Condit, a 53-year-old California Democrat, who has been interviewed twice by police, has said Levy was "a good friend." His aides have denied that there was anything more than a friendship. Condit, who is married and has served in Congress since 1989, is not considered a suspect, the police said.

Condit's own public relations specialist released a statement Friday asserting that the lawmaker and his wife had provided the FBI and police with helpful information.

"Their complete willingness to do this with police investigators should not be confused with their decision not to fuel an already out of control media frenzy," said the public relations statement from Marina Ein. "They do not believe that making public statements on this subject or attending media events will do anything positive or constructive in the effort to locate Chandra."

Levy, who spent the winter and early spring as an intern at the Bureau of Prisons in Washington, was preparing to return to Los Angeles for her graduation ceremonies at the University of Southern California when she vanished.

She was last seen when she turned in her health club membership. At her parents' request, police searched Levy's apartment a week later and found her bags packed and her jewelry, credit cards and driver's license.

Zamsky, who is married to the brother of Chandra's mother, said Levy had shared details of an intimate relationship with Condit that included gifts of chocolates and jewelry and rules on how to avoid being seen together.

Zamsky has told the police that she first learned of the relationship over the Thanksgiving holiday, when Levy visited her aunt in Chesapeake City, Md. On the drive back from the train station, Levy confided that she was dating a married man, "50ish," who works in the government, Zamsky said. The pair had met four or six weeks earlier, Zamsky said, according to The Washington Post.

Levy tried not to identify her boyfriend, but she let his name slip when she explained how she got in touch with him, Zamsky said. Levy dialed a phone number that played music and she left messages for him, or she phoned him at the office, Zamsky said.

"She said, 'and I would also call the office and he would — you know, they'd answer 'Gary Condit,' and that's how the name came out, 'Congressman Condit's office,' " Zamsky said.