Indian diplomat indicted, asked to leave US

NATE RAYMOND AND DAVID BRUNNSTROM
Published — Friday 10 January 2014

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general, attends the India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser event in Long Island, New York in this December 8, 2013 file photo. (Reuters/Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia)

Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general, attends the India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser event in Long Island, New York in this December 8, 2013 file photo. (Reuters/Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia)


NEW YORK/WASHINGTON D.C.: The Indian diplomat whose arrest and strip-searching in New York caused a major rift between India and the United States was indicted for visa fraud on Thursday, and the US government immediately asked her to leave the country.

A US government official said Washington accepted a request by India to accredit the diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, at the United Nations and then asked New Delhi to waive the diplomatic immunity that status conferred. India denied the request, leading Washington to ask for her departure, the official said.

There was no immediate comment from the Indian embassy in Washington and its mission to the United Nations.

Khobragade, who was deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested Dec. 12 and charged with one count of visa fraud and another of making false statements about how much she paid her housekeeper.

Her arrest set off protests in India amid disclosures that she was strip searched on the day of her arrest.

The arresting authority, the US Marshals Service, characterized the strip search as a routine procedure imposed on any new arrestee.

In a letter accompanying her indictment on Thursday, the prosecutor in the case, US Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan, initially said Khobragade had left the country.

Shortly afterwards, a spokesman for Bharara said in a statement that she had not left.

“Subsequent to the filing of the letter, Ms. Khobragade’s lawyer advised that she has not, in fact, departed the US,” a the statement read.

A lawyer for Khobragade confirmed that she had not left.

“Despite Preet Bharara’s reports to the contrary, Devyani Khobragade has not left the country,” Daniel Arshack, her lawyer, said in a statement. “She is at home with her children.”

SOURCE: ARABNEWS.COM

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