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Thompson also said that news reports saying his client was involved with a drug dealer were lies.

The New York Times, quoting unidentified law enforcement official, reported that the woman was recorded on the phone with an incarcerated man around the day she made the allegations, discussing whether to press her case in court.

The newspaper said the man had been arrested on marijuana possession charges and had deposited cash in the woman’s bank account.

“It is clear that this woman made some mistakes, but that doesn’t mean she’s not a rape victim,” Thompson said.

Strauss-Kahn arrived at the courthouse Friday morning in a Lexus SUV and strode confidently up the granite steps with his wife, French journalist Anne Sinclair, at his side.

After the hearing, he slowly walked out the building with his arm on her shoulder, smiling at the throng gathered outside.

He was not given back his passport, and he will not yet be allowed to leave the country. His other attorney, Benjamin Brafman, said Strauss-Kahn would be free to travel within the U.S.

Prosecutors offered few details inside court on the turn in the case. Assistant District Attorney Joan Illuzzi-Orbon said a further investigation caused them to reassess it.

“At the time this case came to the district attorney’s office, we were faced with a credible claim of a serious sexual assault,” she said, noting the accuser had promptly reported the alleged attack and had a “solid work history.”

State Supreme Court Justice Michael Obus, in releasing Strauss-Kahn, said there would be no rush to judgment either way.

Illuzzi-Orbon said, “Although it is clear that the strength of the case has been affected by the substantial credibility issues regarding the complainant, we are not moving to dismiss the case at this time.”

If the case collapses, it could once again shake up the race for the French presidency. Strauss-Kahn, a prominent Socialist, had been seen as a leading potential challenger to conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy in next year’s elections — until the New York allegations embarrassed his party and led to his resignation from the IMF.

“Those who know Dominique Strauss-Kahn will not be surprised by this evolution of events,” one of his French lawyers, Leon Lef Forster, told The Associated Press in Paris. “What he was accused of has no relation to his personality. It was something that was not credible.”

New doubts about Strauss-Kahn’s accuser would also revive speculation of a conspiracy against Strauss-Kahn aimed at torpedoing his presidential chances. Within days of his arrest, a poll suggested that a majority of French think Strauss-Kahn, who long had a reputation as a womanizer and was nicknamed “the great seducer,” was the victim of a plot.

Strauss-Kahn was held without bail for nearly a week after his May arrest. His lawyers ultimately persuaded a judge to release him by agreeing to extensive — and expensive — conditions, including an ankle monitor, surveillance cameras and armed guards. He was allowed to leave only for court, weekly religious services and visits to doctors and his lawyers.

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