WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal law enforcement agents searched the home of a former U.S. diplomat and expert on Pakistan as part of an ongoing investigation, two U.S. officials said Friday. One of the officials said the FBI investigation was related to access to classified materials.
The State Department on Friday said it was aware of the investigation involving Robin Raphel, a one-time ambassador to Tunisia and most recently a senior adviser on civilian aid to Pakistan. Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the State Department was cooperating with the investigation and that Raphel's departure would not affect ongoing diplomatic work with Pakistan.
"We have a range of high-level officials who work with a range of countries in this region and others every single day," she said. "We don't feel that will be impacted."
Psaki said Raphel's employment technically ended Nov. 2, but that her clearance was pulled in October, effectively ending her employment. A spokesman for Raphel, Andrew Rice, said she had been told that her clearance was on hold.
"Ambassador Raphel has not been told that she is the target of an investigation. She hasn't been told what this investigation is about, if anything," Rice said. "She has cooperated with the government and she's confident this will be resolved."
The investigation was first reported by The Washington Post.
A U.S. official confirmed that the investigation was related to a counterintelligence matter. A second official said the investigation specifically involved questions about access to classified materials but declined to comment further. The officials were not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Raphel, who was ambassador to Tunisia and then assistant secretary of state for South Asian affairs during the Clinton administration, retired from the diplomatic corps in 2005 after 30 years of service, but was hired as a contractor in 2009 by the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad to oversee development aid and civilian assistance to Pakistan. Two years later, she returned to Washington and was working until last month in the Office of the U.S. Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan at the State Department.
Her hiring by the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan raised some eyebrows because after her retirement from the foreign service she had worked for Cassidy and Associates, which lobbied on behalf of the Pakistani government.
Raphel's connections to Pakistan are deep: Her late former husband, Arnold Raphel, served as ambassador in Islamabad. Arnold Raphel was killed in a mysterious 1988 plane crash that also claimed the life of Pakistani President Muhammad Zia ul-Haq.