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Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade indicted, but allowed to leave the US

Indian Diplomat in 'Nannygate' Case Indicted

NEW DELHI (AP) -- An Indian envoy whose arrest and strip search in New York City caused a diplomatic furor was heading home Friday after being indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan and then ordered to leave the country.

The case has caused a serious rift between the United States and India, which described Devyani Khobragade's treatment as outrageous and heavy-handed. She had been facing charges of underpaying her Indian-born housekeeper and lying about it on a visa form.

Her departure from the U.S. could signal a cooling of tensions and give both countries a way to claim victory, although her father said in a televised news conference Friday that the case was a triumph for India.

"Devyani today left the U.S. with full diplomatic immunity , vindicating the stand that whatever dispute being raised in the U.S. is a prerogative of sovereign country, India, and only can be adjudicated by Indian courts," said her father, Uttam Khobragade, a retired bureaucrat.

The issue of immunity is key to the case, which erupted a month ago when Devyani Khobragade (dayv-YAHN'-ee KOH'-bruh-gah-day), a 39-year-old mother of two, was arrested. She was strip-searched and kept in a cell with other criminal defendants before being released on $250,000 bail.

In recent weeks, federal officials have said that Khobragade's immunity is limited to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions. But on Thursday, a U.S. government official in Washington said the U.S. had accepted India's request to accredit her to the United Nations, which confers broader immunity.

It would be almost unprecedented for the U.S. to deny such a request unless the diplomat was a national security risk.

India Diplomat Arrest

The United States then asked the government of India to waive the newly granted immunity so they could prosecute her, but the Indians refused. The U.S. then "requested her departure" from the country, said one American government official, who wasn't authorized to speak about the case publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Authorities say Khobragade claimed to pay her Indian maid $4,500 per month but gave her far less than the U.S. minimum wage. The indictment said Khobragade had made multiple false representations to U.S. authorities, or caused them to be made, to obtain a visa for a personal domestic worker. She planned to bring the worker to the United States in September 2012 when she worked at the Consulate General of India in New York, according to the indictment.

Khobragade, who served as India's deputy consul general in New York, has maintained her innocence.

Khobragade's lawyer, Daniel Arshack, said his client was "pleased to be returning to her country."

"Her head is held high," he said. "She knows she has done no wrong and she looks forward to assuring that the truth is known."

The case has caused an outcry in India, where officials say Khobragade is the victim and was being blackmailed by her maid.

The government in New Delhi has unleashed a steady stream of retaliatory measures. Some of the moves, such as preventing the American Center in New Delhi from screening movies, are seen as little more than needling the U.S. But other actions have raised some alarm, including the removal of concrete traffic barriers around the U.S. Embassy and revoking diplomats' ID cards.

The maid, Sangeeta Richard, said in her first public statements on Thursday that she had decided to come to the U.S. to work for a few years to support her family and then return to India.

"I never thought that things would get so bad here, that I would work so much that I did not have time to sleep or eat or have time to myself," she said in a statement released by the anti-trafficking group Safe Horizon.

She said she tried to return to India because of how she'd been treated but her request was denied.

"I would like to tell other domestic workers who are suffering as I did - you have rights and do not let anyone exploit you," said Richard, who has been vilified in India and accused of blackmailing her employer.

In a letter to the judge on Thursday, prosecutors said there was no need for an arraignment because Khobragade had "very recently" been given diplomatic immunity status.

The charges will remain pending until she can be brought to court to face them, through a waiver of immunity or her return to the U.S. without immunity status, the letter from the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

Join the discussion

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breid2 January 10 2014 at 9:18 AM

glad this woman is gone. and India- you should stfu-you have more important matters to work out- like raping women in the streets and not punishing the perpetrators.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
vettura January 10 2014 at 10:45 AM

She obviously is important enough to the Indian government for this elaborate "solution " to the problem. I do think however, that going back to India is more of a punishment than having to do a few months suspended sentence and restitution.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
johnb4747 January 10 2014 at 10:04 AM

The subtitle states "A 39-year-old diplomat was indicted by a grand on Thursday". Would two grand have bought them off? Another AOL proofreader.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
DON January 10 2014 at 10:10 AM

What is B.S. is if it was an American in their country illegally they would be killed or beaten and locked away for life!

Flag Reply +7 rate up
MILLIONAIRE LADY January 10 2014 at 3:27 PM

I think the government acted in the best interest of our country and theirs. We have enough enemies, now let's try to make some friends.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
John January 10 2014 at 5:17 PM


Flag Reply +5 rate up
honda2343 January 10 2014 at 12:07 PM

Here we go again, oh! those Indians, oh! those Mexicans, oh! the white trash, etc. How shallow minded Americans, grow up and look beyond your tunnel vision. Why curse and foul mouth and spread bitterness. Be a good American citizen.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
honda2343 January 10 2014 at 10:15 AM

America is a land of immigrants. There will always be some turbulences from different communities in different modes. As good Americans we can also serve our country by bringing out the cruelties and wrong doings in the lime light and have corrective actions taken. There is no need for bad mouthing, that is not good culture.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
Afantos Aetos honda2343 January 10 2014 at 10:51 AM

''The problem is this'''.. only 12% of American born citizens* owns a passport, so.. there isn't no need to say nothing less or more***

Flag Reply 0 rate up
Tony and Laurel January 10 2014 at 10:15 AM

A triumph for India? Her father is a jerk. Just another third world country with imbeciles as diplomats, and a government that maintains a society of Dalits. God I love social and morally bankrupt countries.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
Afantos Aetos Tony and Laurel January 10 2014 at 10:46 AM

''with all due respect'.... when was the last time;; you were outside of' the US border'??..--- include Canada??--- Have you ever own a passport"**

Flag Reply 0 rate up
rdemayo630 January 10 2014 at 10:19 AM

She should be serving time behind bars just like any other person that has committed a crime.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
2 replies
Cincinnati Rick rdemayo630 January 10 2014 at 10:26 AM

Shouldn't we wait for a trial and verdict? The fact is that this is a minor non-violent beef and would not likely net a jail sentence, even assuming a conviction.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Afantos Aetos rdemayo630 January 10 2014 at 10:36 AM

''YEA--------HO''.. SURE.. BUT-- **ONUS** ONLY IF THE DIPLOMAT'' ISN'T an.. AMERICAN'!! This is just plain BS....period...

Flag Reply +2 rate up
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