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Devyani Khobragade, India diplomat, says she faced cavity search in NYC

The NYPD's 'Barbaric' Arrest Of An Indian Diplomat


NEW DELHI (AP) - An Indian diplomat said U.S. authorities subjected her to a strip search, cavity search and DNA swabbing following her arrest on visa charges in New York City, despite her "incessant assertions of immunity."

The case has sparked widespread outrage in India and infuriated the New Delhi government, which revoked privileges for U.S. diplomats to protest the woman's treatment. It has cast a pall over India-U.S. relations, which have cooled in recent years despite a 2008 nuclear deal that was hailed as a high point in the nations' ties.

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, was arrested Thursday outside of her daughter's Manhattan school on charges that she lied on a visa application about how much she paid her housekeeper, an Indian national.

Prosecutors say the maid received less than $3 per hour for her work.

In an email published in India media on Wednesday, Khobragade said she was treated like a common criminal.

"I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches, swabbing, in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity," she wrote.

An Indian official with direct knowledge of the case confirmed to The Associated Press that the email was authentic. The official, who spoke anonymously because of the sensitivity of the case, said India's priority now is to get the woman returned home.

"India's top demand right now is: Return our diplomat," he said, adding that Khobragade, who was released on $250,000 bail, would have to report to police in New York every week.

Devyani Khobragade

Khobragade's case has touched a nerve in India, where the fear of public humiliation resonates strongly and heavy-handed treatment by the police is normally reserved for the poor. For an educated, middle-class woman to face public arrest and a strip search is almost unimaginable, except in the most brutal crimes.

Prosecutors say Khobragade claimed on visa application documents she paid her Indian maid $4,500 per month, but that she actually paid her less than $3 per hour. Khobragade has pleaded not guilty and plans to challenge the arrest on grounds of diplomatic immunity.

Marie Harf, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman, said Khobragade does not have full diplomatic immunity. Instead, she has consular immunity from the jurisdiction of U.S. courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.

If convicted, Khobragade faces a maximum sentence of 10 years for visa fraud and five years for making a false declaration.

The fallout from the case was growing. India retaliated against U.S. diplomats with measures that include revoking diplomat ID cards that brought certain privileges, demanding to know the salaries paid to Indian staff in U.S. Embassy households and withdrawing import licenses that allowed the commissary at the U.S. Embassy to import alcohol and food.

Police also removed the traffic barricades near the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi in retaliation for Khobragade's treatment. The barriers were a safety measure but India said they clogged up traffic.

On Wednesday, dozens of people protested outside the U.S. Embassy, saying Khobragade's treatment was an insult to all Indian women.

In New Delhi, the lower house of Parliament had to be temporarily adjourned Wednesday after lawmakers noisily demanded that it adopt a resolution against the United States.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh described Khobragade's treatment as "deplorable."

Arun Jaitely, leader of the opposition in the upper house, said the government had to register its "strongest protest" to the U.S. government for the "lack of respect for India." He called for a review of India's relations with the United States, a demand that was vociferously seconded by many lawmakers.

Commerce Minister Anand Sharma said the arrest was a "matter of national outrage." He promised angry lawmakers that the government would make an official statement in Parliament on the incident.

Harf said Tuesday that federal authorities would work on the issue with India.

"We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India," she said. "Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended."

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fatisrock1012013 January 22 2014 at 8:53 PM

indians are protesting for her? but how about the victim she doen't count, they suppose to protest for what she did for the victim who was abused.
by the way the majority have no jobs anyway and nothing to do, they have a lot of time for nonsense.

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Sweetbuxomsista December 19 2013 at 11:56 AM

East meets West...

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clanlindsaysct December 19 2013 at 9:24 AM

and yes these are the same backwards people who bathe in a river they crap and piss in and throw their dead into gotta love good ole india

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clanlindsaysct December 19 2013 at 9:22 AM

ship her ass back to india to the filth she has lived in till she came here

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dexrmerritt December 19 2013 at 8:57 AM

$3.00 an hour I'd do more than cavity search her.....oh the imagination runs and runs.....

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Heymickr December 19 2013 at 1:37 PM

Does your imagination include the concept that she may not be guilty or that she may be entitled to diplomatic immunity?

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anvmd December 19 2013 at 8:16 AM

The law is equal for all. She is not immune because she comes from a privileged class (with money). If she lied on her visa papers or whatever, she must be held accountable. India's system is fraught with corruption, but that shoyuld not make a difference here.

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Heymickr December 19 2013 at 1:37 PM

Is that the same standard you would want India, Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan and other countries to apply to our diplomats? The sword cuts both ways and diplomatic immunity is a critical component of maintaining relationships of any kind with other nations.

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Jason December 19 2013 at 3:02 AM

maybe in some places but Mumbai its self is HUGE and has everything. "Baliwood"

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Jason December 19 2013 at 3:01 AM

Mumbai is HUGE its not a desert its full of buildings very rich area.. cant tell me India isnt Poor...

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Tom December 19 2013 at 2:15 AM

INDIA? Isn't this the country where over 600 million of its citizens still do not have access to an indoor toilet.

No problem, right? Just use the street.

They make all of this noise about the dignity of their women ....

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fort9erdon December 19 2013 at 2:10 AM

If cavity searches are the normal protocal for prisoners, who are arrested in this venue, then I say to India, "tuff nuggies, there slick!" Now would it not have been just easier to say what tyou really paid your maid, instead of lying? I don't know why the feds even asked that question, but, hey, if it's a legal question, it deserves an honest answer. W/O diplomatic immunity, she could be toast. But, I'd much rather just see her deported.

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