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French minister waves off hints of Strauss-Kahn setup

France's interior minister yesterday dismissed as 'pure fantasy' hints by associates of ex-IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn of a setup leading to his New York arrest on sexual assault charges.

"I would say that it is pure fantasy," said Claude Gueant. "I read Epstein's article. What does it say? That DSK lost his phone. It's not because one loses one's phone that there is a setup."



He was referring to an article by Edward Epstein in the New York Review of Books, in which sources said Strauss-Kahn suspected a smartphone that disappeared before his arrest had been hacked.

The article also has associates hinting that Strauss-Kahn may have been set up in order to discredit him ahead of presidential elections in France in 2012.

It describes camera footage showing an employee of the Sofitel hotel, where the sexual encounter was alleged to have taken place in Strauss-Kahn's room, high-fiving a colleague and appearing to perform a celebratory dance after listening to Diallo's testimony.

But Gueant dismissed any suggestions of a setup.

"I can assure you that French police were not among these two people," he said. "All of this is fantasy and I find it extraordinary... If there is someone who thinks there was a setup, he has only to file a complaint with the authorities and then we can stop with the rumours and innuendos."

Epstein said, "I didn't say it was a political conspiracy but I would say that people wanted to find evidence of an indiscretion of his that could derail either his candidacy or even (his work at) the IMF."

Strauss-Kahn was arrested on May 14 after being taken off a plane to Paris following a complaint by maid at the Sofitel hotel, Nafissatou Diallo, that he had attacked her.

Charges against Strauss-Kahn were dropped after prosecutors said Diallo had lied about details of her allegations, although evidence showed that some sort of hurried sexual encounter did occur.

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