Strauss-Kahn 'suspected phone was hacked'
- 26 November 2011
- From the section Europe
Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn suspected that a smartphone lost just before he was arrested on sex assault charges had been hacked, a report says.
The claim comes in a detailed account of the day of his arrest, published in the New York Review of Books.
The report also says CCTV film from the New York Sofitel hotel shows two men celebrating after police were called.
A criminal case against Mr Strauss-Kahn was dropped but the case sank his hopes of running for the French presidency.
The latest report is likely to revive allegations that Mr Strauss-Kahn may have been the victim of a political plot.
He still faces a civil suit by the hotel maid he was alleged to have assaulted, 32-year-old Nafissatou Diallo - even though questions about her honesty led to prosecutors dropping the criminal case.
'Effort to destroy him'
Unnamed sources close to Mr Strauss-Kahn are quoted in the article as saying he had been warned in a text message on the day of his arrest that an email he sent to his wife from his BlackBerry had been read in the offices of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party in Paris.
He had called his wife Anne Sinclair as he was on his way to the airport to return to France to tell her "something serious" had happened, other sources quoted by news agency AFP suggested.
UMP secretary general Jean-Francois Cope dismissed the idea of a plot against Mr Strauss-Kahn as "absolutely ridiculous," alleging on French television that the accusation had been made up to dent Mr Sarkozy's chances of winning the election.
A lawyer for Mr Strauss-Kahn, William Taylor, said: "We cannot now exclude the likelihood that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the target of a deliberate effort to destroy him as a political force,"
US journalist Edward Jay Epstein, who wrote the new article, looked at the Sofitel hotel's electronic key records, CCTV footage and phone records to compile the new account of what happened on 14 May 2011.
Electronic key records show Ms Diallo entered the presidential suite in which Mr Strauss-Kahn was staying between 12:06 and 12:07, while phone records show that he was speaking to his daughter Camille by 12:13, the article says.
What happened in the intervening time remains a matter of dispute. Ms Diallo claims he sexually assaulted her while Mr Strauss-Kahn's lawyers said the sexual encounter was consensual.
The report says Mr Strauss-Kahn was concerned at the time that a mobile phone he called his "IMF Blackberry", but which he used for both private and business communications, might have been hacked or interfered with.
Mr Strauss-Kahn had arranged for a friend to examine the phone upon his planned arrival back in Paris.
But by the time he was on his way to JFK airport, before he was apprehended by police following up Ms Diallo's claims of assault, the phone had disappeared. Phone records show its GPS circuitry was disabled at 12:51 - though this may have been deliberate or an accident, the report says.
The account also alleges:
- Police were not called until a full hour after Ms Diallo first alleged a sexual assault had taken place, despite the serious nature of those allegations. After the police arrived, at 14:05, it was a further hour-an-a-half before Ms Diallo was sent to hospital
- After the police were called, CCTV footage showed the hotel's chief engineer Brian Yearwood and an unidentified man "high-five each other, clap their hands, and do what looks like an extraordinary dance of celebration that lasts for three minutes" as Ms Diallo waits nearby
- Ms Diallo testified that she had entered no room on the floor of the suite in which she claimed the assault took place, but electronic records show she entered another guest room on the floor - room 2820 - both before and afterwards.
- The hotel, Sofitel, has refused to reveal the identity of the guest who was staying in the room, and it is not known whether anyone was there at the times Ms Diallo went in.
Following the scandal, Mr Strauss-Kahn resigned as head of the IMF. His high-flying political career was left in tatters and since returning home, he has faced new allegations of sexual misconduct in France.