News / Asia

Detained Diplomat Complains About Treatment in US Custody

Indian Diplomat Arrest in US Sparks Protestsi
December 18, 2013 1:52 PM
An Indian diplomat arrested in the United States last week says she faced repeated handcuffing and intrusive body searches while being held on visa fraud charges in New York City. The diplomat's charges have stirred protests in India.
VOA News
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 On Tuesday, Indian authorities asked U.S. consular officers to return their identity cards, rescinded airport passes and removed concrete security barriers from in front of the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.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."

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in an undated picture from her Twitter account.Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in an undated picture from her Twitter account.
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in an undated picture from her Twitter account.
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in an undated picture from her Twitter account.
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.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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Comment Sorting
by: San Mann
December 21, 2013 2:29 AM
I'm concerned that the US is becoming the United States of Cavity Search, just as it's already become the United States of Wiretap. Soon it will also become the United States of Domestic Drones. The growing intrusiveness of the US govt needs to be debated vigorously. That cavity searches are becoming routine standard procedure is very worrisome. A person can't even tell a security officer "Don't Touch My Junk" without the fear of being treated as a danger to society. Where will it all end?

by: Pfalzman
December 19, 2013 4:44 PM
Seems she has been tried and convicted by the press and the public before a trial. The recent alleged fraud and abuses of Medicaid by a group of Russian diplomats to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars did not result in such drastic measures, and could equally be described as a series of felonies.

by: Fisher1949 from: USA
December 18, 2013 9:05 PM
Is this the Salem witch trials where an accusation is sufficient grounds for punishment?

She hasn’t been convicted of any crime but there was permanent damage to her by the actions of the State Department and Marshall Service.

This isn't the first incident involving Indian officials. TSA publicly groped a female diplomat in Mississippi that was visiting Hillary Clinton. TSA also strip searched a former Indian President twice and searched and humiliated another Indian diplomat who is Sikh at JFK.

It would be fully justified for India to detain; strip search and perform cavity searches on every American traveling into or out of the country, including diplomats and elected officials.

by: Juan Herrera from: Venezuela
December 18, 2013 6:56 PM
Since the US has been strict with Indian Diplomat on supplying false information on a visa application and also paying "slave wages" to a maid of her own country, why not apply the same strict rules to so called "Venezuelan diplomats" who probably carry cocaine" in their diplomatic luggage? Proof of thi sabounds in Kenya where a "straight diplomat, a Vnewly appointe Venezuelan Ambassador was murdered for teying to put a stop to smuggling drugs under diplomatic luggage inmunity.

by: Taiji Robinhood
December 18, 2013 4:51 PM
This is another testimony of the American government not following with the common rules.

by: Ian from: USA
December 18, 2013 3:18 PM
My country (the USA) & its people (including indian americans and many other ethnic groups) are not 100% free from making mistakes but we try to be fair .
Here , we do witness some of the so called with diplomatic immunity behaving badly (such as reckless driving & walk away from automobile accidents etc..) because they perceive that they are above the law . I assume this happens in many countries by many diplomatic corps as well.
In this particular case I believe the Indian government is out of line to
" 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."
It is not worthy of the image of a country with many thousand years old civilization such as India to react this way .
In Response

by: Taiji Robinhood
December 20, 2013 4:54 AM
Consider the innocent people killed by the Americans in Iraq, Afganistan, Palistan, ..... And the killers enjoy the immunity.

by: scallywag from: nyc
December 18, 2013 2:21 PM
That said one wonders if Indian politicians ought to be shocked by the way the housekeeper has been purportedly said to be treated. Then again perhaps such matters might not resonate with higher ups in India….not that it necessarily resonates with the way common people are treated here in the US as well, which of course is the brunt. Khobragade was treated like the rest of us and naturally she didn't like it……but why then only subject the common person to this type of humiliating approach?

by: sam from: d.c.
December 18, 2013 9:14 AM
those people in india protesting about this are stupid. they're simply protesting against the fact that an "indian national" was arrested. being an "indian national" doesn't mean one is special and does not commit crimes or dishonesty. if someone goes against the law they should expect punishment whether "indian" or not. the protesters and indian government should instead be scrutinizing the accused to see if she is a good representative of their country. too many nationalistic and narrow-minded idiots in this world.

by: Nicole S. from: USA
December 18, 2013 7:53 AM
I have read that she is a well known criminal in India who has lied on government documents there and committed real estate fraud many times, but that she is in a protected group.
She must be part of the corruption of India we are always hearing about. How terrible that now that corruption and crazy class worship has caused all of this for a person like her.

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