(Reuters) - Missouri Governor Eric Greitens was briefly taken into custody on Thursday after being indicted on a felony invasion of privacy charge in connection with an extramarital affair and a blackmail allegation involving the Republican politician, officials said.
Kimberly Gardner, the top prosecutor in the city of St. Louis, said in a statement that the indictment involves an incident that took place on March 21, 2015. Greitens' representatives did not immediately return requests for comment, but an attorney for Greitens told USA Today the governor denied the charges and was "absolutely innocent."
Greitens photographed a woman identified as K.S., who was fully or partially nude, without her knowledge or consent in a place where she could expect privacy, according to the indictment and Gardner's spokeswoman Susan Ryan. Greitens subsequently transmitted the image in a way to allow it to be accessible by computer, the indictment said.
If convicted, Greitens, 43, faces up to four years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine, Ryan said, adding that a judge had ordered Greitens to be released on his own recognizance.
News of the indictment sparked calls for Greitens' resignation or impeachment by some state lawmakers, including at least one Republican, the Kansas City Star reported.
Greitens has admitted to having an extramarital affair with a woman before his election in November 2016, but has denied he tried to blackmail her to keep it a secret.
Greitens, a former U.S. Navy SEAL, said in joint statement with his wife last month that he had been unfaithful in their marriage and his wife had forgiven him.
Last month, KMOV-TV in St. Louis aired a recording of the unidentified woman with whom Greitens admitted having the affair as she confessed the March 2015 encounter to her then-husband.
KMOV did not identify the woman or her husband in the recording, but said the two were no longer married.In the recording, the woman told her husband that Greitens had taken a picture of her naked and threatened to publish it if she told anyone about their affair. Greitens' attorney has said allegations of blackmail against the governor were false.
(Reporting by Suzannah Gonzales and Karen Pierog in Chicago; Editing by Daniel Wallis)