By David Alexander
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The commander of the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay has been relieved of his duties after an investigation uncovered evidence of an inappropriate relationship between him and a civilian woman whose husband was found dead earlier this month, a U.S. official said on Thursday.
The U.S. Navy said Captain John Nettleton, commander of Naval Station Guantanamo Bay since June 29, 2012, was relieved on Jan. 21 because of a loss of confidence in his ability to command. The Navy declined to provide further details, citing the ongoing investigation.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, responding to a question at a news conference on Thursday, confirmed the commander had been relieved of his duties but declined to elaborate, saying it would be inappropriate for him to comment because of the investigation.
"The base commander has been relieved. It is now in the purview of appropriate authorities, so I won't have anything to say specifically about that," Hagel told reporters. "But the commander has been relieved."
The U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said investigators looking into the death of Christopher Tur, a civilian worker at the Navy Exchange on the base, found evidence of an inappropriate relationship between Nettleton and Tur's wife.
The Coast Guard found Tur's body in the waters at the western side of the base on Jan. 11, a day after his wife reported him missing, the official said. The investigators were looking into the cause of Tur's death, which was not immediately clear, the official said.
Nettleton has been temporarily assigned to a staff job at Navy Region Southeast in Jacksonville, Florida, the Navy said.
He was not directly involved in detainee operations at Guantanamo military prison, which houses fighters captured in the U.S. war against al Qaeda and its affiliates, defense officials said.
Nettleton was in command of the Navy installation and was responsible for base logistics, but the prison is run by a joint task force.
Captain Scott Gray, the chief of staff to the commander of Navy Region Southeast, has been assigned acting commander at Guantanamo, the Navy said.
(editing by Gunna Dickson)