Washington, Nov 8 (IANS) Controversial veteran American diplomat Robin Raphel, under FBI scanner as part of an anti-spying probe, was suspected of taking classified information home from the State Department, according to media reports.
Citing unnamed officials, The New York Times said the FBI was trying to determine why Raphel apparently brought classified information home, and whether she had passed, or was planning to pass, the information to a foreign government.
In October FBI agents searched the home and State Department offices of Raphel, who had raised the hackles of the Indian establishment in the 1990s by describing Jammu and Kashmir as “disputed territory” and her lobbying for separatists there.
Raphel, who was appointed as the first assistant secretary of state for South Asia in 1993 by then President Bill Clinton, also sided with Sikh separatists.
She “was seen in New Delhi as a catalyst for Washington trafficking with India’s enemies,” according to a 1994 Los Angles Times report cited by Wikipedia.
At the time of the raid, she was serving as a senior adviser on Pakistan for the office of the special representative on Afghanistan and Pakistan since 2011.
In that job, she was chiefly responsible for administering non-military aid such as US economic grants and incentives, according to The Washington Post which first reported the story.
The Times said officials did not give details about why they were examining Raphel’s activities. Nor did they say whether she was officially a target of the investigation.
“Raphel is a fixture in Washington foreign policy circles and is one of the State Department’s highest-ranking female diplomats,” the influential US daily noted.
“It is extremely rare for the FBI to open a counterintelligence investigation into such a prominent Washington figure,” it said.
“Any decision by the Justice Department to open the inquiry would have had to take into account that an investigation – whatever its outcome – will have a lasting impact on Raphel’s ability in the future to operate within American diplomatic circles,” the Times said.
Raphel was stripped of her security clearances as part of the investigation and relieved of her duties at the State Department.
Spokesperson Jen Psaki said the department was “cooperating with our law enforcement colleagues on this matter.”
Raphel, 67, who started her career as an analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had also served as Political Counsellor in New Delhi.
A former ambassador to Tunisia, she had also served in Pakistan during her 30-year-long career.
Raphel retired from the Foreign Service in 2005 and joined Cassidy & Associates, a firm that has done lobbying work for the government of Pakistan, according to the Times.
In 2009, the American Embassy in Pakistan hired her to help administer billions of dollars of development aid to the country.
In 1988, Raphel’s former husband, Arnold L. Raphel, then the American ambassador to Pakistan, was killed in a mysterious plane crash with Pakistan president Gen. Mohammad Zia ul-Haq.