An Indian diplomat arrested in the United States last week says she faced repeated handcuffing and cavity searches while being held on visa fraud charges in New York City, fueling a diplomatic dispute between the U.S. and her country.
In an email published in Indian media Wednesday, Deputy Consul General Devyani Khobragade said she broke down in tears multiple times while undergoing cavity searches and other indignities. She said she also was held in a space with common criminals and drug addicts, despite her repeated assertions that she has diplomatic immunity.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called India's National Security Advisor to discuss Khobragade's December 12 arrest, saying U.S. laws must be enforced, but also expressing regret at the events that unfolded after her detention.
India has reacted with outrage to the incident.
At the White House, spokesman Jay Carney said the "isolated episode is not indicative of the close and mutually respectful ties" that the U.S. and India share. He said U.S. officials are "looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all standard procedures were followed and that every opportunity for courtesy was extended."
Supporters of a small opposition party staged an anti-U.S. protest in New Delhi on Wednesday. On Tuesday, Indian authorities asked U.S. consular officers to return their identity cards, rescinded airport passes and removed concrete security barriers from in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.
State Department spokesman Marie Harf said the U.S. expects that American "diplomats should be allowed to continue with their jobs. They should not be impeded from doing them in any way."
The 39-year-old Khobragade is accused of making false statements in support of the visa application of an Indian national she brought to the United States to serve as household staff. She also is accused of paying the woman less than the minimum wage.
Khobragade, who says she is innocent, has been released on $250,000 bail.
In a diplomatic rebuff, Indian Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde cancelled his meeting with a five-member delegation of U.S. Congress members visiting New Delhi. India's ruling Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi and opposition leader Narendra Modi also cancelled meetings with the group.