Washington: In a second case of its type, one of India’s senior diplomats in New York was arrested and accused by Manhattan’s Indian-born US attorney Preet Bharara of visa fraud and exploiting her baby sitter and housekeeper.
Devyani Khobragade, 39, India’s Deputy Consul General in New York, was charged on Thursday with one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements, which carry maximum sentences of ten years and five years in prison, respectively.
Khobragade, who looks after political, economic, commercial and women’s affairs at the consulate, pleaded not guilty to the charges in Manhattan Federal Court and was freed on a $250,000 bail.
The Indian Embassy in Washington reacted swiftly and conveyed its “strong concern to the US Government over the action taken against Khobragade.” It also urged the US side “to resolve the matter with due sensitivity,” taking into account a pending court case in India and the diplomatic status of Khobragade.
The diplomat was taken into custody by law enforcement authorities in New York on Thursday while she was dropping her daughter at school, the embassy said in a statement. Her lawyer, Daniel Arshack, told a magistrate judge his client enjoys immunity and will challenge the arrest on those grounds. Khobragade handed over her passport as a condition of bail and agreed to make no contact with the unnamed housekeeper.
India yesterday summoned US envoy Nancy Powell in New Delhi and conveyed its strong protest over the arrest and handcuffing of an Indian diplomat… see more