WASHINGTON, D.C.: The United States (US) voiced regret to India over the treatment of a diplomat whose account of being stripped and cavity-searched triggered outrage as the prosecutor in charge of the case defended the arrest.
With New Delhi vowing to “restore the dignity” of diplomat Devyani Khobragade, Indian media reported that the 39-year-old was being moved from her post as deputy consul general in New York to the United Nations mission in a bid to thwart her prosecution.
In a strongly worded statement, Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara said the diplomat had “clearly tried to evade US law designed to protect from exploitation the domestic employees of diplomats and consular officers.”
Khobragade is free on bail after her December 12 arrest in New York for allegedly paying a domestic worker a fraction of the minimum wage and for lying about the employee’s salary in a visa application.
Bharara, who was born in India, stressed that the employee allegedly worked “far more” than the 40 hours a week in her contract and visa application.
The worker is said to have been paid just $3.31 an hour—well below New York’s required $7.25—despite signing a contract to pay her three times that amount for childcare and other services.
“Is it for US prosecutors to look the other way, ignore the law and the civil rights of victims [again, here an Indian national], or is it the responsibility of the diplomats and consular officers and their government to make sure the law is observed?” Bharara asked.