India said Saturday it has transferred a diplomat living in the United States to its United Nations delegation, a move India hopes will give the diplomat protection from prosecution for visa fraud and underpaying a maid.
The transfer providing Devyani Khobragade with more protection must, however, be approved by the the U.S. State Department. It is not immediately clear whether the State Department will approve the move that is clearly designed as a way out of the diplomat's legal difficulties.
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 U.S. to serve as household staff.
Indian officials have complained about the way Khobragade was treated when she was arrested earlier this month and want all charges against her dropped.
Khobragade said after her December 12 arrest that she faced repeated handcuffing and cavity searches while being held on the visa fraud charges. She has been released on $250,000 bail.
On Wednesday, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement saying Khobragade was extended courtesies far beyond what other defendants, most of whom are American citizens, are accorded.
Bharara questioned why Khobragade's case has garnered more sympathy in India than that of her employee, who allegedly was paid only a third of the amount Khobragade had reported to U.S. officials.