A sex scandal that brought down the CIA chief David Patraeus threatens to engulf another top US general after investigations revealed that a Tampa socialite Jill Kelly sent "flirtatious emails" to the commander of the US forces in Afghanistan, John Allen.
General Allen was put under investigations after FBI agents probing email threats sent by Petraeus's mistress stumbled upon messages the US commander sent to another married woman at the centre of controversy.
US President Barack Obama has put on hold the nomination of Allen as the next commander of the US European Command as the US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta in a statement said that FBI has referred to him the matter involving General John Allen.
The ripples in the US military came as Panetta demoted a former head of the Africa command on charges of lavish travel and spending.
General William Ward, former Commander of US Africa Command, would now be retired at the grade of Lieutenant General, the Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
Hours after reports of Allen's involvement in the infamous Patraeus affair came to light, the Defence Secretary, now on a visit to Australia along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cautioned against reaching early conclusions about the veracity of allegations against the top US commander in Afghanistan.
"No one should leap to any conclusions here," Panetta told reporters in Perth.
He said the 59-year-old general has "my continued confidence to lead our forces in Afghanistan." The four-star general also received the backing of his commander-in-chief President Barack Obama.
According to Pentagon officials, the married general denies any sexual liaison with 37-year-old Kelly, but the sheer volume of correspondence between him and the socialite continues to be unearth by the FBI agents.
Allen was scheduled to face Congressional hearing to confirm his promotion to the post of NATO's supreme commander in Europe, but will now have to remain stay put in Kabul till the probe is over.
Petraeus Sex Scandal Threatens to Engulf John Allen
Lalit K Jha/Washington
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