UPDATE: A federal grand jury in New York has indicted an Indian diplomat accused of lying about how much she paid her housekeeper. But although a prosecutor said in a letter that she was allowed to leave the country, her lawyer said that is not true and that she is still in the United States.
The arrest of Devyani Khobragade sparked outrage and protests in her home country of India and caused some diplomatic tensions between the United States and India because she was handcuffed in public and then strip searched in jail, actions that Indians consider humiliating and inappropriate for someone of Khobragade's stature. In India, security searches are common but a public arrest of a middle class person is not. Public arrest without advance warning and handcuffing on federal charges is common in the United States, regardless of status.
One member of the Indian parliament was so outraged over the arrest, he called for the Indian government to arrest any gay U.S. diplomats in India, where homosexuality is illegal, a law that was recently affirmed by that country's Supreme Court.
Police in New Delhi actually as far as removing security traffic barriers outside and near the U.S. Embassy there in retaliation.
She was indicted on charges of visa fraud and making false statements when she filed for a work visa for her New York City housekeeper. Prosecutors said she promised to pay the maid U.S.-standard wages but in reality paid her far less, which is common in India. She has said she is innocent.
In a letter to the judge, prosecutors said Khobragade has been given diplomatic immunity status, although such status is not always conferred on consulate staff, and left the United States on Thursday. But attorney Daniel Arshack said in a statement Khobragade was at her New York City apartment.
"In a letter sent to the Court upon the filing of the Indictment of Ms. Khobragade, we stated our understanding that she had left the country," James Margolin, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney, said in a statement. "Subsequent to the filing of the letter, Ms. Khobragade's lawyer advised that she has not, in fact, departed the U.S."
The charges will remain pending until she returns to the U.S. without diplomatic immunity status or with immunity waived, the feds said.With the AP
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