Detectives were trying to determine whether Spitzer, whose political ascent ended in 2008 when he resigned from the governorship amid a prostitution scandal, was involved in an incident on Saturday at the luxury Plaza Hotel, a police spokesman said. No further details were given.
Spitzer's lawyer, Adam S. Kaufmann, said the 26-year-old woman had told hospital staff that the former governor had choked her in an attempt to avoid hospitalization for emotional issues. In a statement, Kaufmann said the woman had retracted the assault allegations in an email to Spitzer and apologized for the incident.
According to Kaufmann, Spitzer had known the woman, identified in the statement as Svetlana Travis, "for a period of time." She had asked the ex-politician and former prosecutor to book her a hotel room on Saturday before she returned to her family in Russia on Sunday.
New York City police have not confirmed the woman's name.
The pair talked in the hotel room on Saturday for a brief time and then Spitzer left, his attorney said. She later called Spitzer, who returned to the hotel "at which time he saw her becoming highly emotional and was threatening self-harm," the statement said. Spitzer acted appropriately at all times, his attorney said.
Kaufmann said the woman had called the emergency services disclosing a "breakdown" then attempted to cancel the call, Kaufmann said. The New York Times reported that she had claimed to emergency workers she had attempted suicide.
The woman was admitted to a local hospital where she told staff that Spitzer had assaulted her in order to avoid further evaluation, according to Kaufmann.
She was released and returned to Russia as scheduled on Sunday, where she learned about the investigation and sent an email to the former politician seeking to clear his name, Spitzer's team said.
Kaufmann has sent the email to the Manhattan District Attorney's office, the New York Times reported.
No charges have been filed.
Known as the "Sheriff of Wall Street" during his tenure as New York's attorney general, Spitzer was elected governor in a landslide victory in 2006. But his political career derailed after just a year in office when he was exposed as a client in a prostitution ring.