A prison employee in upstate New York has denied helping two inmates escape from the maximum security jail.
Joyce Mitchell, a training supervisor at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, could face a sentence of up to seven years if convicted.
She is accused of smuggling contraband into the prison from which inmates David Sweat and Richard Matt staged a daring escape a week ago. The authorities have not yet said exactly what materials Joyce Mitchell supplied.
The two prisoners escaped through holes cut into a steam conduit that led to a manhole in the street, leaving a goodbye note for their former captors before fleeing.
Around 800 law enforcement officers are involved in the hunt for the fugitives.
“We are working seamlessly round the clock with several agencies in our hunt. We have a message for David Sweat and Richard Matt – We are coming for you, and we will not stop until you are caught”, said Major Charles Guess of New York State police.
The prison lies around 30 kilometres south of the Canadian border. The authorities say they have no evidence of the pair having left the area.
They are combing nearby woods and holiday homes as well as mounting road checkpoints.
The public are being asked to be vigilant and call police immediately with any relevant information.