A6SPECIAL/DIPLOMATIC STANDOFF India Abroad January 10, 2014
Fresh developments have surfaced in Indian diplo- mat Devyani Khobragade’s case, clarifying the roles played by different agencies and how nationalistic sentiments in India have created a situation that will not quickly end the controversy.
Chances of the prosecutors dropping the case or the United
States government apologizing to India are remote. Various
American agencies insist that Khobragade enjoyed no diplomatic immunity when she was charged for alleged visa fraud
and arrested in New York December 12.
And contrary to public belief, it was not US Attorney for
the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara’s office that
initiated the case against Khobragade. It was the US State
Department that initiated the case, investigated it and later
had Khobragade arrested on the charge of making false declarations in a visa application for her maid, Sangeeta
The US Marshal’s office took the diplomat in custody after
her arrest and her prosecution will be handled by Bharara’s
Khobragade will be indicted January 13. Under US law, a
person arrested should be produced before a grand jury
within 30 days.
Annoyed by the raging controversy in India and the Indian
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Will India agree to a plea
deal for Devyani?
There is no chance of the case
against Devyani Khobragade being
dropped, but a plea deal to avoid jail
term is possible, US government
sources tell George Joseph
government withdrawing the privileges granted to US diplomats,
the US government has gathered information that sources claim
reveals Khobragade’s intention not to follow US laws, even though
she promised to abide by them when she hired Richard.
When Richard sought help from immigration attorneys in the US,
government sources claim members of her family were allegedly
threatened by the police in India. This led the US embassy to fly
Richard’s husband, daughter and son to New York two days before
Khobragade was arrested, sources told this correspondent.
“If her family was harmed after Khobragade’s arrest, what would
have been the reaction of the people?” one US official asked. “It was
our duty to protect them.”
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the prose-
cution did not say that Khobragade had promised $4,500 a month
to Richard. The prosecution’s case was that Khobragade signed an
agreement with Richard to pay her the minimum US wage of $9.75
an hour. Her boarding and lodging and travel were not included.
Richard, the US officials say, was paid about $1.20 an hour and
she worked 17 to 18 hours a day.
The Indian media, quoting the diplomat’s defense attorney, said
the prosecution had goofed up the case, which was not true according to the US government sources who spoke to this correspondent.
They said $4,500 represented nobody’s income, as Khobragade
has 11 properties and sources of income other than the salary she
earned from the Indian government. It only showed the ignorance
of the person who filled the application. The prosecution’s case does
not rest on this amount, the sources insisted.