HomeWorld NewsFormer US ambassador to Islamabad dated Pakistani journalist: Report

Former US Ambassador Richard Olson, once known for his distinguished diplomatic career, faces sentencing after a series of revelations about his personal and business conduct, including his tenure as US Ambassador to Pakistan. Also included an extramarital affair with journalist Muna Habib.

Olson, who retired from the State Department in 2016, had an illustrious 34-year career that included postings as U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates, as well as assignments in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, recently revealed court records have shed light on a different aspect of his life, Washington Post informed of.

One aspect of the investigation focused on Olson’s failure to report a $60,000 gift of diamond jewelry from the Emir of Dubai to her mother-in-law while she was serving as head of the U.S. Consulate in Dubai. Additionally, the FBI investigated her involvement in arranging for Imad Zuberi, a Pakistani American businessman, to pay $25,000 in tuition bills for Muna Habib, enabling her to attend the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism .

Olson’s complicated romantic life also came under scrutiny. While posted in Pakistan from 2012 to 2015, he dated several women despite being married to another American diplomat who was serving as ambassador to Libya at the time. He did not report these contacts to US diplomatic security officials, as required by State Department counterintelligence regulations.

The former ambassador pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors, failing to disclose an $18,000 first-class ticket he received for a job interview and illegally lobbying on behalf of Qatar after his retirement. Although he was not charged in connection with the diamond gifts or Habib’s tuition, the Justice Department argued that these episodes demonstrate a pattern of unethical behavior.

Olson’s sentencing is scheduled for Tuesday and he faces up to six months in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. His lawyers argue that he should be spared prison for his long and respected career.

Also read: Former US ambassador to Pakistan pleads guilty to lobbying for Qatar

In recent years, the US Justice Department has stepped up enforcement of foreign influence laws, including action against retired military personnel who serve as advisers to foreign powers.

The scandal involving Olson began during his tenure as US Ambassador to Pakistan when he became involved with journalist Muna Habib. Despite dating for two years, their relationship ended in late 2014 after Habib discovered Olson’s infidelity. They later reconnected and Olson helped Habib financially attend journalism school.

Emails submitted to the court show that the two remained close even after the breakup. Habib, who is now married to Olson, downplayed questions about their relationship and dismissed them as “salacious gossip.”

Olson reported his relationship with Habib to the CIA station chief, but did not report it to American diplomatic security officials, as was required of diplomats with high-level security clearance.

The investigation also examined a gift of a diamond she received from the Emir of Dubai, which Olson claimed was a gift for her mother-in-law. While Olson’s then-wife, Deborah Jones, was also investigated, both she and Olson were cleared of wrongdoing by the State Department.

Despite the controversy, Jones defended the validity of the diamond gift and argued that her mother considered it a personal gift from Amir. The State Department closed the investigation, but both Jones and Olson were asked to voluntarily give up the diamonds.

As the legal proceedings unfold, Olsson’s once-distinguished diplomatic career has become entangled in a web of personal and professional controversies that have left a lasting impact on his legacy.

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