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Indian Diplomat Seeks Dismissal of US Criminal Case

Devyani Khobragade, who served as India’s deputy consul general in New York, leaves Maharastra state house in New Delhi, India, Jan. 11, 2014.
Devyani Khobragade, who served as India’s deputy consul general in New York, leaves Maharastra state house in New Delhi, India, Jan. 11, 2014.
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Reuters
— A lawyer for Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade on Tuesday asked a U.S. judge to throw out immigration and employment charges against her that led to a major diplomatic spat between the United States and India.
 
The lawyer, Daniel Arshack, argued that Khobragade's diplomatic status, granted by the State Department last week as part of a deal allowing her to leave the country, gave her absolute immunity from prosecution, even for incidents that allegedly occurred before her accreditation.
 
The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan, which indicted Khobragade on Thursday, did not immediately comment on the filing.
 
Khobragade, a U.S.-based consular official, was arrested on Dec. 12 and accused of underpaying her housekeeper. News of her arrest and a subsequent strip search provoked protests in India and strained ties between the two countries.
 
She was accredited as a member of India's mission to the United Nations on Wednesday, one day before she was indicted and asked to leave the country.
 
In his motion on Tuesday, Arshack said the State Department's own guidance for law enforcement agencies states that immunity extends to incidents that occurred prior to the granting of that immunity. Thus, he said, the case against Khobragade is a “nullity” and should be dismissed.
 
If Judge Shira Scheindlin dismisses the indictment, that would presumably permit Khobragade, whose husband and children are U.S. citizens, to travel freely to the United States.
 
Prosecutors had said last week charges would remain pending against Khobragade until such time as she can be brought to court to face them.
 
State Department officials have said they do not believe her immunity is retroactive. In a press briefing on Friday, spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Khobragade would face prosecution if she returned to the United States.
 
“Her accreditation in this case to the U.N. does not remove existing charges,” Psaki said. “In addition, now that she has left the United States, she no longer enjoys immunity.”
 
The case is U.S. v. Khobragade, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 14-cr-00008.

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Comments
     
by: sara from: work
January 14, 2014 6:34 PM
The ONLY person who seems to have won here is the maid Ms.Sangeeta Richard who NOT only got an opportunity to get into the US (something most uneducated Indians can only dream about....courtesy the Indian diplomat), but now can hope to obtain perm. residency too!
Thanks to American government,, maid and her family got free visa to US. Common sense would tell us that maid made all that noise to stay in this country. We know many people all over the world want to come here and waiting for visa, but I have to hand it to the maid for playing the american system . well played. When she was living with Khobragade , she was getting paid salary, her food, insurance, free housing, plane ticket to india and all of that. Calculate all that amount together. This is why, here most of the prisons are over crowded because police accused them for wrongdoings. No wonder government keeps raising the tax to keep these kind of things going. Think about that.


by: Samuel J. from: USA
January 14, 2014 5:50 PM
India has given me proof that it has zero respect for US law and zero respect for the US people.


by: Anonymous
January 14, 2014 4:45 PM
Shame on this diplomat. She thinks US as her third world country, no law is the law.


by: Shankar from: India
January 14, 2014 4:04 PM
Please note that US Diplomats in India pay just Rupees 12000 that is US $ 200/ month to their Indian servants. This shows US's double standards.

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