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Former US diplomat cleared in Pakistan spying case: Lawyer

The United States has dropped spying charges against top diplomat Robin Raphel who was considered sympathetic to Pakistan and, by extension, hostile to India, for the lack of evidence.

world Updated: Mar 22, 2016 09:56 IST
Yashwant Raj
FBI agents raided the home of Robin Raphel, a one-time ambassador to Tunisia, in 2014 as part of a counter-intelligence investigation.
FBI agents raided the home of Robin Raphel, a one-time ambassador to Tunisia, in 2014 as part of a counter-intelligence investigation.(Reuters File Photo)

The United States has dropped spying charges against top diplomat Robin Raphel who was considered sympathetic to Pakistan and, by extension, hostile to India, for the lack of evidence.

“We are pleased that the Department of Justice has closed its investigation involving Ambassador Robin Raphel,” said Raphel’s lawyer Amy Jeffress in a statement

“It was clear from the outset that this investigation was based on a fundamental misunderstanding. The Department has now completed a lengthy investigation that has fully exonerated Ambassador Raphel of the allegations that anonymous government officials irresponsibly leaked to the press nearly two years ago.”

Raphel, who was once a top US diplomat for India and Pakistan as assistant secretary of state for the region, had not responded to a request for comments till the filing of this report.

“The Department has now completed a lengthy investigation that has fully exonerated Ambassador Raphel of the allegations that anonymous government officials irresponsibly leaked to the press nearly two years ago,” said her lawyer.

Raphel came under investigation last year after the US intelligence intercepted a conversation in which a Pakistani official said she was providing information to Islamabad.

The case, however, began to weaken as soon as it started, according to The New York Times, which first reported the justice department’s decision to drop it.

Raphel continued her high-profile presence in Washington DC, appearing at think-tank events, also at those related to India, where she met and spoke with this reporter several times.

Raphel was the first assistant secretary of state to head the south and central Asia affairs desk, a newly created administrative unit in the Clinton administration in 1993.

She soon ran foul of the Indians with her outspoken advocacy of the American role in solving the Kashmir dispute, which New Delhi views as strictly a bilateral issue with Pakistan.

Indians remain convinced she is partial to Pakistan.

Raphel was pulled out of retirement by Richard Holbrooke, the first head of the Afghanistan-Pakistan cell at the state department, as a top adviser, which she remained till the end.