US orders Indian diplomat out as attempts to indict her fails

10 Jan 2014


The US authorities on Thursday ordered the harassed Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade to leave the country, after efforts to break her diplomatic veil and slap criminal charges on her failed.

Devyani KhobragadeReports said Khobragade has left for India after the US converted her visa giving her the protection of full diplomatic immunity under her new role at India's Permanent Mission at the United Nations.

A senior US official said Khobragade departed from New York's John F Kennedy International airport on Thursday night, on a flight to India.

Khobragade's attorney Daniel Arshack, however, refuted reports that Khobragade had left the US.

The US state department had requested India that her diplomatic immunity be lifted so that she could be prosecuted in the US.

Failing this, US government officials said they have granted Khobragade's request for full UN diplomatic immunity, but the state department had ''requested her departure'' from the country, especially after ''the Indians refused… to waive the immunity''.

Devyani Khobragade today asserted that the charges filed against her in a US court are "false and baseless" and that the stand taken by her and the Indian government in the case will be "vindicated".

Khobragade was unlawfully arrested last month by the New York police and was subjected to inhuman strip search over alleged visa fraud and for underpaying her housemaid.

The arrest sparked a diplomatic row between India and the US, with Washington holding on to its view that Devyani Khobragade had no diplomatic immunity and New Delhi arguing that the US authorities have violated international conventions on the treatment of diplomats.

The 39-year-old diplomat, meanwhile, affirmed her determination to ensure that the episode does not leave a lasting imprint on her family, in particular her children who are still in the United States.

A US grand jury, however, indicted her for visa fraud and allegedly making false statements.

US Attorney Preet Bharara said the charges against her will remain and that she will have to face trial if she returns to the US without diplomatic immunity.

Meanwhile, Sangeeta Richard, the domestic worker who alleged that the diplomat underpaid her in violation of a contract that she signed to obtain an A-3 visa for her and her family ''now enjoy permanent residency in the US…. as a result of the false claims and shoddy investigation,'' Khobragade's lawyer Daniel Arshack said.

Even as Khobragade prepared to board an aircraft in New York, her lawyers hit out at the prosecutors describing their investigation as ''shoddy'' and accusing US attorney Preet Bharara of making false claims and issuing ''baseless charges''.

He said Bharara's false statement that Ms Khobragade had left the US was ''emblematic of the series of blunders which has contributed to the false charges brought against her''.

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