The woman who claimed she had an affair with Switzerland's former ambassador to Germany, Thomas Borer, has recanted her story.This content was published on July 8, 2002 - 08:44
Djamile Rowe, the Berlin beautician at the centre of the so-called "Borer Affair" and a key player in his ultimate downfall as ambassador, says she never had sex with him.
She also claimed she had been psychologically pressured and offered "substantial" sums of money by a newspaper to make claims of a sexual tryst with Borer.
Borer quit his job with the Swiss foreign ministry after the mass-market "Blick" newspaper reported claims in April of a steamy affair between Rowe and Borer.
The paper quoted Rowe saying "whenever Shawne was away, we had sex in the embassy".
The story came several days after the paper's sister-publication, the "SonntagsBlick" published photos of Rowe allegedly leaving the embassy in Berlin after a late-night meeting with Borer, whose wife, Shawne Fielding, was away at the time.
The stories fuelled a fierce media campaign against Borer that lasted several weeks and raised a bitter debate within Switzerland about media standards.
Rowe's sensational U-turn, which was reported on Sunday by the Swiss "SonntagsZeitung" and the German weekly "Bild am Sonntag", is set to re-inflame the case, and puts pressure on the SonntagsBlick, the Blick and their publisher, Michael Ringier, to defend their original stories.
The Swiss cabinet - which recalled Borer on April 10 - is also likely to face renewed scrutiny over its handling of the case.
The SonntagsZeitung said that Rowe signed a statutory declaration in front of Borer's lawyer on Friday, refuting her previous claims of an affair and suggestions that she visited Borer in the Berlin embassy.
Rowe also re-stated her new story in a videotaped recording on Thursday.
In her statement, she says SonntagsBlick reporter, Alexandra Würzbach, pressured her into making her claims against Borer.
Rowe claims Würzbach approached her saying she was researching a story on Borer that was ultimately "aimed at removing the Swiss ambassador in Berlin". "She tried to coax me into saying I had a relationship with Borer," she said in her statement.
After the newspaper published photos of Rowe allegedly visiting the embassy, she says the reporter contacted her again and put her under "massive" pressure to provide more information.
Rowe says Würzbach relayed a "very high monetary offer" from Ringier for her to "confess" to a sexual relationship with Borer.
She claims the "enormous psychological pressure" from Würzbach, Ringier and his staff, forced her to give in to the paper's drive to publish the "untrue story".
However, the SonntagsZeitung says questions remain about Rowe's latest move. The paper claims she has not explained how she has financed her lawyer and a newly hired press-spokesman.
She has also failed to account for where she was on March 21, the night she allegedly visited Borer at the embassy.
Foreign ministry: "no comment"
Ruedi Christen, a spokesman for the Swiss foreign ministry told swissinfo that it would not comment on the latest twist to the story. "If Mrs Rowe has changed her story, that's her business and not ours".
He also said that cabinet's decision to recall Borer - who now works as a business consultant in Berlin after refusing to accept his recall to the foreign ministry in Bern - had nothing to do with his private life.
The Ringier publishing house told the SonntagsZeitung that it was aware of Rowe's new claims, which contradicted her "earlier explanations to countless media both within and outside [Switzerland] as well as her statutory declaration to us".
The publisher announced on Sunday it will launch legal proceedings against the Berlin beautician, but refused to make any further comment. The SonntagsBlick is itself facing legal action from the Borers.
The latest revelations in the Borer affair come just a few days after experts of Kloten's Prolabore photo laboratory issued a preliminary report about the incrimating pictures. The report says the photos were neither manipulated nor forged by the SonntagsBlick.
A final verdict on the photos will only be issued in September, as further investigations are needed to decide whether the pictures were not staged. The authenticity of the shots has been questioned by various media outlets.
swissinfo with agencies
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