January 21, 2013 By

Federal Government Returns Indictment Against Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade

4_6The U.S government has once again indicted the Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, whose recent arrest and strip search drew international attention and ignited a row and an eventual standoff between India and the United States. Khobragade faces arrest if she returns to the United States, federal prosecutors said on Friday. The new indictment comes just days after a federal judge dismissed a similar indictment because she had diplomatic immunity.

 Khobragade faces charges on visa fraud and providing false statements for a visa application about how much she paid her housekeeper, according to the indictment filed in a Manhattan federal court. Prosecutors have accused her of forcing Sangeeta Richard, her housekeeper and nanny, to work 100-hour weeks at a salary of just over $1 an hour, far below the U.S. legal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Jerika Richardson, spokeswoman for the United States attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York said that an arrest warrant also was issued.

Khobragade, was earlier arrested and strip-searched by the federal agents in New York City in December 2013. The Indian officials had criticized the move and the United States announced that it would withdraw one official from its embassy in New Delhi. She claimed that she was “cloaked in diplomatic immunity at the time of her arrest,” according to court documents. “Even if Khobragade had no immunity at the time of her arrest and has none now, her acquisition of immunity during the pendency of proceedings mandates dismissal,” U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin had ruled.

 Khobragade left the United States in January and now works for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi. Her attorney, Daniel Arshack, made no comments saying in a statement that “the government of India will respond in due course”.

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