Former US ambassador to Pakistan in hot waters
- Web Desk
- Sep 10, 2023
Former U.S. Ambassador Richard G. Olson Jr. to Pakistan, celebrated for his long and distinguished diplomatic career, has found himself entangled in a web of legal troubles since retiring from the State Department in 2016.
Back during his service, the then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry had said, “Rick is quite simply one of our most distinguished diplomats”. However, since then Olson has come under federal investigation for a pattern of conduct atypical of the upright, protocol-observant world of international diplomacy.
An article published in The Washington Post has unveiled a complex web of scandals surrounding the former ambassador, involving extra-marital affairs, concealment of diplomatic gifts and lobbying in violation of the federal laws.
Olson is set to be sentenced, facing a potential six-month prison term, though his lawyers argue against incarceration. They contend that Olson, whose career spanned over three decades, has been unfairly targeted by prosecutors.
Newly revealed records have shed light on a series of issues that are far from typical in the world of international diplomacy.
The State Department’s inspector general investigated Olson for failing to report a $60,000 gift of diamond jewelry from the emir of Dubai to his mother-in-law. Additionally, the FBI questioned him regarding an extramarital affair with a journalist while he served as the U.S. ambassador in Pakistan. These details have come to light through court documents.
The investigation uncovered a complex personal life, including multiple relationships while he was stationed in Pakistan from 2012 to 2015, despite being married to another U.S. diplomat. Olson’s affairs were not reported to U.S. diplomatic security officials, a violation of State Department counterintelligence rules.
The authorities also learned of Olson arranging for a Pakistani American businessman to pay $25,000 in tuition bills that enabled the ambassador’s girlfriend – a British citizen working as a journalist in Pakistan – to move to New York and attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. The businessman in concern is currently serving a 12-year federal prison sentence for illegal campaign donations and tax crimes.
Olson has pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, one related to failing to disclose an $18,000 first-class ticket for a job interview in London and the other to illicitly lobbying on behalf of the government of Qatar in violation of federal law.
Although he wasn’t charged with wrongdoing regarding the diamonds or his girlfriend’s tuition, the Justice Department argues that these incidents reveal a pattern of unethical behavior.