BUENOS AIRES, Argentina - A 41-year-old former reporter acknowledged having a relationship with South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, saying Sunday that widely published e-mail correspondence between the two was obtained from her account without permission.
In a brief statement sent to news network C5n of Buenos Aires, Maria Belen Chapur said she will not talk about her private life, which has already been the focus of intense media scrutiny in the United States and Argentina.
"I have decided to send this statement to clear up certain incorrect things that are being reported and put an end to a matter that, as you imagine, is very painful to me, my two children, my entire family and close friends."
Chapur said someone accessed her Hotmail account without permission late last year and leaked e-mail correspondence that described a relationship with Sanford to the The State newspaper in Columbia.
But she denied the "hacker" is a friend â as has been widely reported here â saying he is as much a victim of the media frenzy as she.
"I have a strong suspicion of who is responsible for this evil act that was directed at me but also destroyed the lives of so many others," Chapur said. "But without sufficient proof, and for legal reasons, I am obligated to not reveal the name.
"It is not for me to judge anyone. I leave it all in the hands of God," she concluded.
The statement was addressed to C5n anchor Eduardo Feinman, who read it on camera. Feinman was Chapur's editor when she worked briefly as a television reporter in 2001.
It was widely reported that Chapur was Sanford's mistress after the governor admitted to the relationship last week.
But he did not identify Chapur.
Reporters staked out Chapur's building in an upper-class neighborhood in the Argentine capital for days trying to locate her, and pressed for information from neighbors and the owner of a bar she reportedly visited with Sanford.
People who know Chapur describe her as an elegant, well-mannered, soft-spoken woman who speaks several languages. She is a graduate in political science from the Catholic University of Buenos Aires and the divorced mother of two sons.
Heber Alvarez, a doorman at her building, said she often rises early for morning jogs through the neighborhood.