By Basil Katz
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Manhattan prosecutors investigating the attempted rape of a hotel maid by former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn asked whether his French accuser, writer Tristane Banon, would testify against him and if they could see her file, her lawyer said on Wednesday.
Strauss-Kahn, once seen as a leading candidate to be the next president of France, is facing attempted rape allegations on both sides of the Atlantic.
The lawyer, David Koubbi, told Reuters he refused to hand over the documents requested by prosecutors at a meeting at the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Tuesday.
He said he would grant Manhattan prosecutors full access only if there was an official request by U.S. authorities to French police.
"I was asked for Madame Banon's file and I categorically refused," Koubbi said, adding that he would wait until there was "an official request from the United States for legal cooperation agreed to by French authorities."
"This is the reason behind my denying the District Attorney yesterday when his investigators asked me to give them the contents of Tristane Banon's case."
A spokeswoman for Vance declined to comment.
Koubbi spent about three hours inside the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance on Tuesday, accompanied by Kenneth Thompson, the lead attorney representing the New York hotel maid whose allegations led to Strauss-Kahn's arrest in New York in May.
Koubbi said he came to New York to "take stock of whether the victim's case was solid or not."
"Strauss-Kahn's lawyers have said there's nothing in the victim's case but, as evidenced, that's wrong," Koubbi said.
Strauss-Kahn, who was the Socialist Party's leading contender for the French 2012 presidential election, was arrested by New York police on May 14 on charges of attempting to rape the hotel maid. He has repeatedly denied the charges.
Banon, 32, filed a complaint in France against Strauss-Kahn earlier this month over an incident she says took place when she went to interview the former French finance minister in a Paris apartment in 2003.
The maid's case against Strauss-Kahn was shaken earlier this month when prosecutors advised Strauss-Kahn's lawyers in writing that they had reason to believe she had told authorities numerous lies. Since then, Strauss-Kahn was freed from house arrest without bail and a court date was pushed back two weeks to allow prosecutors more time to evaluate the case.
Koubbi said that after his meeting in New York on Tuesday he hoped that political considerations would not influence the case.
"I hope political considerations will not dictate Cyrus Vance's office's decision in this case," he said.
The district attorney, or chief prosecutor, is chosen by voters in partisan elections every four years.
(Additional reporting by Noeleen Walder; Editing by Daniel Trotta)