Free Strauss-Kahn sits tight in luxury house

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Dominique Strauss-Kahn stayed holed up in his luxury New York townhouse Wednesday on his first morning of real freedom in more than three months.

About 20 reporters, photographers and TV journalists camped out across the cobbled street from 153 Franklin Street, the tony brick house rented by the former IMF chief and his millionaire wife Anne Sinclair.

But there was no sign of movement -- not even a twitch of the blinds in the glass doors or eight windows -- from the $50,000 a month property.

On Tuesday, a judge threw out sex assault charges against the powerful French politician after prosecutors said the hotel maid accusing him of forcing her into oral sex could not be believed.

A rare earthquake along the US east coast meant offices in New York closed early, so although he was free Strauss-Kahn was told to wait until Wednesday to recover his passport, confiscated at the time of his shocking arrest May 14.

Neighbors in the exclusive Tribeca neighborhood of Manhattan said they couldn't wait to see an end to the sordid affair -- or the departure of the journalists staking out Strauss-Kahn's house.

Beatrice Clairay, a French real estate agent living one block away, said she wouldn't miss her compatriot.

The so-called DSK affair -- in which Strauss-Kahn says that a brief, hardcore sexual act with the maid was consensual -- has embarrassed and infuriated many people in France, where he was until recently seen as a likely next president.

"I have no particular sympathy for DSK," Clairay, 47, said. "He has to learn to seduce women in a more elegant way."

She said the prospect of him leaving and the media circus vanishing "makes me smile."

Relatives back home have been making fun of her predicament, she said, but she also happens to have an aunt living across the street from the Strauss-Kahn's in Paris.

"They joked at me and I say: 'Don't worry -- he's coming your way now!'"

© 2011 AFP

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