Reuters International

Italian laywoman Francesca Chaouqui (C) walks to her her trial at the Vatican, in Rome April 6, 2016. REUTERS/Remo Casilli

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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - A woman charged with leaking Vatican documents denied on Wednesday that she had had sex with a priest, telling a court he revealed secrets about his private life to her in a hotel room while his mother slept.

Francesca Chaouqui, 35, a married public relations consultant, and the priest, Spanish Monsignor Angel Lucio Vallejo Balda, are two of the people on trial in the so-called "Vatileaks II" case.

The case centres on the publication last year of two books based on leaked documents that depict a Vatican plagued by graft and where Pope Francis faces stiff resistance to his agenda.

Vallejo Balda admitted during an earlier hearing that he leaked documents to journalists, but Chaouqui said on Wednesday that she had not given them anything more than press articles already in the public domain.

Vallejo Balda had told the court last month that his relationship with Chaouqui had been "clearly for me as a priest compromising," and suggested that she had seduced him in a Florence hotel room.

But she told the court on Wednesday that she was not attracted to him and that he had confided "his sexual sphere" to her. "I never had sex with him," she said. "I was never next to him carnally."

She said she wanted to tell her side of the story because "I have been described as a sort of whore looking for priests to seduce."

Chaouqui said she had entered the hotel room that Vallejo Balda was sharing with his mother in December 2014, and that he told her about his personal life while his mother was sleeping in the bed.

Even though the two are now at loggerheads about what happened, she told the court she would never reveal all of what he told her because she had too much respect for promises she made.

Chaouqui and Vallejo Balda were both members of a now-defunct commission appointed by Pope Francis to advise him on economic and bureaucratic reform. Vallejo Balda has accused her of intimidating and manipulating him in order to get a permanent job in the Vatican after the commission's work was done.

The Vatican made it a crime to disclose official documents in 2013 after a separate leaks scandal, which the media dubbed "Vatileaks".

Journalists Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi last year published books based on documents that prosecutors say they got from Chaouqui, Vallejo Balda and his assistant, Nicola Maio.

The journalists are accused of putting pressure on the three to get the documents. The defendants face up to eight years in prison if convicted. The trial resumes on Monday.

(Reporting By Philip Pullella, editing by Larry King)

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