Strauss-Kahn suspected phone hacking: associates

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Disgraced ex-IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn suspected that a smartphone that disappeared just before his arrest on sexual assault charges in New York had been hacked, associates said Saturday.

Several sources close to Strauss-Kahn told AFP 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.

Strauss-Kahn, who was taken off the plane on May 14 following a complaint by a hotel maid that he had attacked her, was referring to the loss of his official International Monetary Fund BlackBerry phone and his suspicions that it might have been hacked, the sources said.

An article to be published in the New York Review of Books quotes unnamed sources close to Strauss-Kahn saying he had been warned in a text message on the day of his arrest that an email he sent to his wife from the BlackBerry had been read in the offices of French President Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP party in Paris.

The article raises questions that Strauss-Kahn, seen as the biggest threat to Sarkozy in next year's French presidential elections, may have been set up in order to discredit him.

Assault charges were dropped against him after prosecutors said that the maid, Nafissatou Diallo, had lied about details of her allegations, although evidence showed that some sort of hurried sexual encounter did occur.

As a result of the scandal Strauss-Kahn had to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund, his high-flying political career was left in tatters and since returning home he has faced new allegations of sexual misconduct in France.

UMP secretary general Jean-Francois Cope dismissed Saturday the idea of a plot against Strauss-Kahn as "absolutely ridiculous," alleging it had been cooked up to dent Sarkozy's chances of winning the election.

"I would like to see the evidence if it exists," he said on France's TF1 television.

© 2011 AFP

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