Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund, has returned home to France for the first time since a chamber maid at a New York hotel accused him of attempted rape.
The 62-year-old, accompanied by his wife, Anna Sinclair, arrived at Paris' Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport early on Sunday morning following an overnight flight and was quickly escorted through the airport by police into a waiting car.
"It's quite a stakeout at the airport, despite the fact that he actually changed his flight," said Al Jazeera's Jacky Rowland, referring to the assembled media who had gathered to record Strauss-Kahn's return.
"He didn't make any statements at the airport and the only thing he said to journalists waiting for him outside his house was 'A bientot!' [See you soon]."
Strauss-Kahn, who resigned as head of the IMF following his arrest in May, was allowed to leave the US after New York prosecutors dropped the case against him because of questions about his accuser's credibility.
The case was filed by Nafissatou Diallo, a 32-year-old Guinean migrant who worked at the upscale Sofitel Hotel.
Diallo alleged that Strauss-Kahn assaulted her when she entered his suite to perform routine cleaning duties. She has since filed a civil suit seeking unspecified damages.
Strauss-Kahn, who denies the allegations, had been considered a strong favourite to win next year's presidential elections in France.
But few expect Strauss-Kahn to return to French politics soon, as he faces another investigation in France over attempted rape, based on accusations by a French novelist.
Before leaving New York, Strauss-Kahn and his wife made their way through a crowd of journalists assembled at the airport before they were helped through a security checkpoint, an AFP correspondent saw.
Strauss-Kahn, who was wearing a dark suit and white shirt but no tie, smiled and waved to a group of passengers but did not speak to reporters.
His imminent return has caused embarrassment for France's opposition Socialist Party as it prepares to vote in a primary to choose a candidate to run for the presidency against Nicolas Sarkozy.
"I'm eager to return to my country," Strauss-Kahn told reporters outside his home in Lower Manhattan on August 23 after the charges against him were dropped, calling the legal saga a "terrible and unjust ordeal."
"I'll express myself at greater length once I'm back in France."
In a written statement, he said the three-month-long legal process had been a "nightmare for me and my family."
Source: Al Jazeera and agencies