The Dominique Strauss-Kahn brouhaha of earlier this year, in which the most likely opponent of Sarkozy in next year's French presidential elections was thrown in jail on a charge of rape that was later tossed out, remains unexplained.
In the New York Review of Books, veteran investigative journalist Edward Jay Epstein tries to connect the dots back to Sarkozy:
According to several sources who are close to DSK, he had received a text message that morning from Paris from a woman friend temporarily working as a researcher at the Paris offices of the UMP, Sarkozy’s center-right political party. She warned DSK, who was then pulling ahead of Sarkozy in the polls, that at least one private e-mail he had recently sent from his BlackBerry to his wife, Anne Sinclair, had been read at the UMP offices in Paris.1 It is unclear how the UMP offices might have received this e-mail, but if it had come from his IMF BlackBerry, he had reason to suspect he might be under electronic surveillance in New York. He had already been warned by a friend in the French diplomatic corps that an effort would be made to embarrass him with a scandal. The warning that his BlackBerry might have been hacked was therefore all the more alarming.
As I pointed out last Spring, surely the Sofitel management must have contacted management in Paris in the hour between the maid (or whatever she was) talking to management and the time the hotel called the NYPD. Epstein has the same suspicion, although he can't quite prove it:
Shortly thereafter the hotel’s own security team was augmented by John Sheehan, a security expert who is identified on LinkedIn as “director of safety and security” at Accor, a part of the French-based Accor Group, which owns the Sofitel. Sheehan, who was at home in Washingtonville, New York, that morning, received a call from the Sofitel at 1:03 PM. He then rushed to the hotel. While en route, according to his cell phone records, he called a number with a 646 prefix in the United States. But from these records neither the name nor the location of the person he called can be determined. When I called the number a man with a heavy French accent answered and asked whom I wanted to speak with at Accor.
The man I asked to talk to—and to whom I was not put through—was René-Georges Querry, Sheehan’s ultimate superior at Accor and a well-connected former chief of the French anti-gang brigades, who was now head of security for the Accor Group. Before joining Accor Group in 2003, he had worked closely in the police with Ange Mancini, who is now coordinator for intelligence for President Sarkozy. Querry, at the time that Sheehan was making his call to the 646 number, was arriving at a soccer match in Paris where he would be seated in the box of President Sarkozy. Querry denies receiving any information about the unfolding drama at the Sofitel until after DSK was taken into custody about four hours later. ...
Interesting, but when you go high enough up the pyramid, everybody knows everybody else, so that's not convincing.
At 1:28, Sheehan, still on the way to the hotel, sent a text message to Yearwood [the hotel engineer]. And then another text message to an unidentified recipient at 1:30. At 1:31—one hour after Diallo had first told a supervisor that she had been assaulted by the client in the presidential suite—Adrian Branch placed a 911 call to the police. Less than two minutes later, the footage from the two surveillance cameras shows Yearwood and an unidentified man walking from the security office to an adjacent area. This is the same unidentified man who had accompanied Diallo to the security office at 12:52 PM. There, the two men high-five each other, clap their hands, and do what looks like an extraordinary dance of celebration that lasts for three minutes.*
The NYRoB footnote reads:
Editors’ note: The article entitled “What Really Happened to Strauss-Kahn,” by Edward Jay Epstein, which appeared in our December 22, 2011, issue, contained a description of what “looked like” a “dance of celebration” by two employees of the Hotel Sofitel in New York City at approximately 1:35 PM on the day that Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in connection with an alleged sexual assault. Security camera recordings have established that the episode, as described, lasted approximately thirteen seconds, not the three minutes mentioned in the article.
Well, 13 seconds sounds more plausible. But I can imagine how Epstein must have felt watching the Sofitel security camera tapes when suddenly these two Sofitel guys start high-fiving right after the cops are called. It must have seemed like 180 seconds to him.
He then implies that maybe the whole thing was coordinated by somebody in the room down the hall from DSK, which the complainant visited right before and after her encounter with the energetic DSK. And DSK's missing Blackberry has never turned up. Its GPS tracking device was turned off during this sequence of events.
So, no smoking gun, but it's pretty interesting. I imagine Julian Assange and Elliott Spitzer are reading this with some interest, too.