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Borer takes aim at Swiss foreign minister

Thomas Borer, pictured here with his wife, Shawne Fielding, has lashed out at the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss Keystone

Thomas Borer has criticised the Swiss foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, for his lack of support following allegations the ex-diplomat had an affair while in office.

This content was published on July 8, 2002 - 19:44

The former Swiss ambassador to Germany was speaking on Monday after Djamila Rowe - the woman who claimed to have had sex with him - recanted her story.

The allegations against Borer, published in the Swiss press, were seen as a major factor contributing to his downfall.

"My foreign minister, Joseph Deiss, completely abandoned me," Borer said in an interview with German radio.

Borer added that Deiss had "been more ready to believe a popular newspaper and a doubtful witness than myself".

Deiss recalled Borer to Bern shortly after the story was published.

Borer rejected recall

The former ambassador, who quit his job with the foreign ministry after refusing the order to return to Bern, said he believed he had been recalled in connection with "private complaints". "What other reason could there have been?" he said.

Borer said he was "relieved" that Rowe had recanted. "I always said that this story was invented."

The Berlin-based beautician was quoted on Sunday by the "SonntagsZeitung" and German papers as saying she had been under psychological pressure and offered "substantial" sums of money to claim she had a sexual tryst with Borer.

The story first broke in April when 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.

Several days later its sister publication, the mass-market "Blick", reported claims of a steamy affair between Borer and Rowe.

U-turn

Rowe's sensational U-turn puts pressure on the two Swiss papers and their publisher, Michael Ringier, to defend their stories.

The Swiss cabinet is also likely to face renewed scrutiny over its handling of the case, particularly in the light of Borer's comments.

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.

Psychological "pressure"

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.

Legal threats

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.

New ambassador

Meanwhile, on Tuesday Borer's replacement, Werner Baumann, was sworn in as the new Swiss ambassador to Germany by the German president, Johannes Rau.

Baumann, a native of canton Uri, was ambassador to the Philippines and has worked for the foreign ministry since 1978.

swissinfo with agencies

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