Lawyer for indicted Indian envoy says she will return home

11-Jan-2014 Intellasia | Foxnews | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A lawyer for the Indian envoy indicted on criminal counts said Thursday she will be returning home after being given clearance by the State Department and a federal court.

Devyani Khobragade was indicted earlier Thursday on two counts, of visa fraud and making false statements, but there were conflicting statements as to her whereabouts.

US Attorney Preet Bharara initially said Khobragade had already left the US after being granted diplomatic immunity. But her lawyer, Daniel Arshack, said shortly afterward that she was still in New York.

Arshack later told, “as a result of her diplomatic status having been recognised, the Federal court today recognised Dr Khobragade’s right to travel and she is pleased to be returning to her country. Her head is held high.”

Shown here is Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade.AP

Bharara’s office said in an earlier statement that the State Department requested Khobragade’s departure. Reuters separately reported that the US government has indeed requested that she leave the US

Arshack called Bharara’s initial statement that Khobragade had left “emblematic of the series of blunders which has contributed to the false charges brought against her.”

He added, “we are pleased that the United States Department of State did the right thing today by recognising the diplomatic status to which Dr Khobragade has always been entitled.”

However, it appeared that while Khobragade’s diplomatic immunity protected her from prosecution, the indictment could prevent her from returning to the US

The developments indicate the Obama administration is trying to find a resolution to ease diplomatic tensions between the US and India, despite the federal allegations against Khobragade.

The diplomat, who was working in New York, was arrested last month, accused of underpaying her housekeeper and illegally concealing it.

The Indian government, though, claimed she was subjected to inappropriate and rough treatment, and retaliated on several fronts against the US – including by hauling away security barriers outside the US Embassy in New Delhi.

Bharara has defended the US government’s handling of the case.

Khobragade was indicted Thursday by a federal grand jury in Manhattan.The indictment said Khobragade had made multiple false representations to US authorities, or caused them to be made, to obtain a visa for a personal domestic worker. She planned to bring to worker the United States in September 2012 when she worked at the Consulate general of India in New York, according to the indictment.

Khobragade, 39, India’s deputy consul general in New York, has maintained her innocence to accusations that she claimed to pay her Indian maid $4,500 per month but actually gave her far less than the US minimum wage. Her arrest last month sparked outrage in India after revelations that she was strip-searched and thrown in a cell with other criminal defendants before being released on $250,000 bail.



Category: Regional

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