The US Justice Department has closed its espionage investigation into former US diplomat Robin L. Raphel with no charges, her lawyer said.
In November 2014, the FBI raided Raphel’s home and reportedly confiscated some documents she brought home from office. Reports in the US media claimed that the FBI had also intercepted a conversation she allegedly had with a Pakistani official, indicating that she was sharing secrets with the official.
The investigation quickly began to fall apart and was downgraded from espionage to less serious charges of keeping classified information at home.
Raphel, a former assistant secretary of state for South Asia, has had a long association with Pakistan. She retired from the State Department in 2005 after 30 years of service, but returned in 2009 as a senior adviser on Pakistan under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Until Nov 2, 2014, she served as coordinator for non-military assistance to Pakistan.
In a statement sent to the media, her lawyer Amy Jeffress said: “The Justice 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.”
Jeffress said that Ambassador Raphel was a widely respected, long serving career diplomat with an outstanding record of service to her country.
The lawyer said it was “clear from the outset that this investigation was based on a fundamental misunderstanding”.
She said that such probes prevent diplomats from discharging their duties. “It is of the utmost importance to our national security that our diplomats be able to do their work without fearing that their routine diplomatic communications will subject them to criminal investigation,” she wrote.
Jeffress also criticised those unnamed officials who had been revealing details of the investigation to reporters.
The New York Times noted that in negotiations with the government, Raphel had “rejected plea deals and had been insistent that she faced no charges”.