Devyani Khobragade Case: Fresh Setbacks as Indictment Extension Refused

New Delhi extends retaliatory measures against U.S. embassy staff as possibility of negotiated solution fades

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Carlo Allegri / Reuters

Daniel Arshack, lawyer of Devyani Khobragade, speaks to Reuters TV in front of the Indian consulate in New York City on Dec. 18, 2013

The diplomatic crisis between India and the U.S. sparked by the case of Indian consular official Devyani Khobragade has hit new setbacks, with an indictment extension refused by an American judge and fresh retaliatory measures taken against the U.S. embassy in New Delhi.

Khobragade, then deputy consul general in New York City, was arrested last month on accusations of submitting false visa documents with respect to her maid and of not paying the maid a minimum salary. The handcuffing and strip search of Khobragade by U.S. marshals sparked protests in India and demands from New Delhi that all charges to be dropped.

Currently, the clock is ticking for a settlement to be reached before Khobragade is indicted, which must happen within 30 days of her arrest — Jan. 13 at the latest — after which it will be markedly more difficult to conduct plea negotiations and find a diplomatic resolution to the case.

A request made by Khobragade’s attorney Daniel Arshack for the indictment deadline to be extended was refused on Wednesday by a federal judge. U.S. prosecutor Preet Bharara says an extension is not necessary, since authorities have already outlined “reasonable parameters for a plea that could resolve the case, to which the defendant has not responded.”

(MORE: Devyani Khobragade Scandal: Why India Still Won’t Back Down)

Meanwhile, India has forced the U.S. embassy in New Delhi to close down its commercial activities, including a popular social club, and has said all diplomat and embassy-staff vehicles in the country will be subject to local laws.

“We’re not hostile, this is an arrangement based on reciprocity,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told the Hindustan Times regarding the latest retaliatory measures.

In the past week, Indian authorities have also claimed that they have discovered cases of tax and other legal violations by U.S.-embassy staff members in New Delhi, including the sale of duty-free alcohol to those who are not legally entitled to it.

Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Syed Akbaruddin has said the Khobragade case “severely undermined” relations between the two countries.

67 comments
AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

It is good Devyani  has landed in India after being expelled from  the U.S. Human trafficking is a serious crime in the U.S. 

Devyani is accused of confiscating her maid's passport and forcing her to work 100-hour, seven-day weeks at her  home in New York, according to a federal grand jury indictment. On Thursday, she  was "effectively expelled from the United States ... as part of a deal in which she was granted diplomatic immunity from the charges," 

There are five revealing examples of human trafficking on American soil:

1. Servant Kept Locked in Closet.

2. Cheerleader Accused of Sex Trafficking

3. Human Trafficking at Convenience Stores.

Raids on 7-Eleven convenience stores occurred along the East Coast in 2013, when investigators uncovered immigrant workers allegedly working for marginal pay and living in plantation-style housing. This alleged human trafficking ring was also linked to an identity theft scheme which provided the trafficked workers with fraudulent identities. Though the 7-Eleven workers had been provided homes and a relatively better wage ($3 an hour), the federal human trafficking law recognized that the employees were illegally coerced into staying

4. FBI Raids Rescue Sex-Trafficking Victims.

In another effort by law enforcement to stop human trafficking, a nationwide FBI sex-trafficking sting rescued more than 100 teens in 2013

5. Super Bowl Draws Child Sex Slaves

.Local law enforcement in past Super Bowl locations have seen an increase in child prostitution around the time of the national football championship; 

There is also documentary evidence for the  visa abuse committed by Devyani. It is also a serious offense. Even  president Nixon  had to resign because tapes were used as evidence. Visa papers signed by Devyani will be shown as exhibits for visa fraud. If there is a trial, Devyani would have to face 15 year jail sentence. It's good she has arrived in India. 




USsky01
USsky01

Human trafficking is illegal in the US.  It sounds like the diplomat's behavior was pretty much the same as any thug and if this is typical behavior in India, then as a third world country it has a long way to go.  The Americans weren't paying the domestic servant's wages, the diplomat was.  The government of India has enough money to pay its diplomats a reasonable wage in a foreign country.

RationalistCentral
RationalistCentral

These americans are the richest country in the world.Yet they pay Rs 12000 (200 dollars) to indian maids in india, with no free logding, no house rent, no free food, no plane or even bus ticke, no medical no ipads....

But they'll arrest and strip cavity search indian diplomats for paying her maid Rs 30000 (600 dollars), plus free lodging, free food, free plane tickets to India, free clothes, free ipad and phone and sim card,...

And they want her to pay her maid Rs 90000 ! ($1400). When her own salary is a very indian salary. And US diplomats salary is a very US grade pay, still are only paying just 200 $. India gov should make laws that make weighted salary payments after factoring in exchange rate too. Make them pay 1400$ to indian maids and hefty fine of 2 or 3 million dollars, or send em to jail and strip cavity search them till they plead guilty.

Do to them just as they do to you.

Azaad
Azaad

India being a sovereign state has its own  independent judiciary. Isn't it important for one sovereign nation to respect the laws  of another nation. As Khoagrade had already filed a case in Indian high court that was  pending and a non bail able warrant  was issued against Sangeeta (maid)  and those warrants were sent to the concerned officials in US .Its not legal for US attorney office to evacuate  maids family from India  without informing Indian authorities. It shows complete contempt of the Indian Judiciary.   If the judges  actually respect the sovereignty of the Indian nation and it judiciary, shouldn't   they throw this case out and send it back to India or will they want  to leave  a precedence that any sovereign nation can override the judiciary of another sovereign nation.

BernieDC
BernieDC

I didn't expect any better from a country where half the houses don't even have toilets

likhon
likhon

We hope and pray that India never needs any help from USA for any reason. The true meaning of 'reciprocity' will come out then. India is trying to strong arm USA to do something which they don't do. I hope people who are making these childish decisions(reciprocity) know what they are doing. Don't ever ask USA to influence anyone on your behalf! The neighbor is a two faced jerk and who do you think India is helping by doing all these?

ShareIQ
ShareIQ

What USA did was fair game, what India is doing is fair game as well. What's the issue? there is no set back. USA is too big to suffer any set back by Indian moves. Also, Indian's have found an excuse to strip US consulates and their family members of any privileges which are not extended to Indian counterparts and family members in USA. Its the common person working in India , used to of all the red carpet treatment , now suddenly withdrawn , who will feel the pinch. That's all. I hope India doesn't treat one of US diplomats like Devyani was treated. India shouldn't stoop to that level. And who ever did this in USA has some answering to do. 

sumitron_2k@hotmail.com
sumitron_2k@hotmail.com

Put everyone in jail...the diplomat, the maid and their respective lawyers...just wasting public time and money

SSwamy
SSwamy

Why is India burning so many bridges all in order to support one corrupt mid level consular official who committed VISA fraud?  What is the value system of its politicians and elected officials?

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

"We’re not hostile, this is an arrangement based on reciprocity,” External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told the Hindustan Times regarding the latest retaliatory measures."

not hostile, just vindictive and pathetic. perhaps instead of getting up in arms over a politician being detained for modern day slavery, indians should focus on issues a little closer to home like their abysmal treatment of women and their gang-rape problem



dwhylton
dwhylton

I wonder how many Indians were put out of work by closing down the social club and other activities?

bojimbo26
bojimbo26

Apart from the Spotify advert covering paragraphs , there is no smoke without fire .

rsimhamb
rsimhamb

Devyani and her Dad are embroiled in the Adarsh housing scheme scam in Mumbai, and it is also commonly known that she garnered favors unethically and unfairly due to her dad's influence.  Preet Bharara unwittingly did a great favor to the Indian Armed Forces veterans who were due to receive apartment allocations, but were stepped on by corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, by having Devyani arrested and on the way to indictment.

Corrupt bureaucrats like Devyani have been giving a proverbial bodily cavity stuffing to the Indian people.  It is hilarious that she was given a literal cavity stuffing by Uncle Sam's fist.  Well deserved!  The enduring and endearing fact is that the cavity search cannot be undone.  She will live with it for the rest of her life - you reap as you sow.


On the other had, it is gratifying to see India's backbone.  It's about bloody time, and they should not yield an inch.  India has it's problems, but it is destined for greatness.

I'm an Indian American, and the sheer comedy of this entire saga has me in splits.  A can of worms has been opened, and there will be a lot more folks on both sides who will be the recipients of "virtual" cavity searches.

likhon
likhon

@RationalistCentral Paying a local Indian not enough is not a crime. You can call them cheap but they are not violating any laws. The locals are free to choose not to work. You are comparing apples and oranges. LOCAL LAWS! You are mixing it up. 

AbrahamYeshuratnam
AbrahamYeshuratnam

@Azaad Khurshid, Syed Akbaruddin handling Devyani's issue reminds me of Tughlak rule in Delhi.

likhon
likhon

@Azaad  Please read what you just typed. What would have happened to the maid and her family if things went as you suggested? 'India being a sovereign state has its own  independent judiciary' - very true but it could be a little selective. Don't you think? 

JasmineLSunil
JasmineLSunil

@Azaad  Criminal Devyani and her Corrupt father Uttam Khobragade are sick!!!.


U.S. has done the right thing by issuing T Visas to Sangeeta and her family.


Indian bureaucrats have already harassed Sangeeta’s family members by arresting them in retaliation for her complaint against Devyani. A case was filed against Sangeeta in the Delhi High Court last year.

Leaving Sangeeta’s family in India or deporting Sangeeta to India would be tantamount to leaving them at the mercy of wolves.

Indian judiciary and bureaucracy are extremely biased against the lower classes, who often fall victim to oppressive state action on specious and merit-less grounds.

U.S. must be applauded in quietly getting Sangeeta’s family to the U.S. before initiating action against Devyani Khobragade for her SERIOUS crimes.

Why did CRIMINAL Devyani keep quiet about her legitimate diplomatic immunity for two weeks since her arrest?? Wouldn’t it have been, well, more diplomatic, to show her forged UN credentials at the very onset and squash the shadow-boxing instead of getting Richard’s passport revoked and moving an Indian court to prevent her from suing in a US court? The passport revocation made Richard look like a victim and triggered media probes into Devyani’s background with unsavoury revelations.

She and her father were found to have played a questionable role in getting an allocation in a housing project meant for war widows. It was also found that there was some irregularity in her career, with Devyani receiving an out-of-turn language allotment.

JasmineLSunil
JasmineLSunil

@BernieDC  Now India is seeking to shield CRIMINAL Khobragade from criminal prosecution, arguing that she possessed full diplomatic immunity as an adviser to India’s permanent mission to the United Nations. Even if Khobragade had such immunity — and India’s recent effort to reassign Khobragade to its permanent U.N. mission underscores that she did not — its use under these circumstances would pervert the intention of the 1946 Convention on Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations. As a consular official, Khobragade had a limited form of immunity covering her official acts, not her private affairs.


Instead of acquiescing to the Indian government’s efforts to thwart justice, the U.S. government should deny the request to reaccredit Khobragade to the United Nations. The State Department should refuse to accord her full diplomatic immunity, rather than the more limited consular immunity she possessed at the time of her arrest. The federal criminal prosecution must be allowed to continue without regard to political expediency; anything else would send precisely the wrong message about the rule of law in the United States.

U.S. officials should also suspend India from the visa program that permits diplomats to bring domestic workers to the United States; suspension is required under the 2008 Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act if there is at least one credible case of exploitation or trafficking and a foreign government has tolerated the abuse.

At its heart, this incident is about a domestic worker alleging fraud, underpayment of wages and other serious violations of U.S. law. Khobragade’s counsel insists that she is innocent. As in previous prosecutions of foreign officials, the evidence — not misappropriated diplomatic immunity — should decide the case.

Azaad
Azaad

@BernieDC 

When did you last visit India.. reading folk tales and passing comments. Slavery is what USA is famous for not India.

MattKar
MattKar

@BernieDCHouses having toilets and diplomatic relations ...wow what a connection. Thanks for displaying your abysmal IQ !

KarticKalyan
KarticKalyan

@likhon During the cold war, India-US relations were at best cold and indifferent. India has come this far because of Russia. Perhaps it'll go back to its trusted friend. Russia never treats allies this way. A little bit of sensitivity is required to keep allies. The entire Asia is going against the US. China, N.Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan. Do you want India to join the list ? Take for example, if India ignores US request to stop buying oil from Iran, that could mean the US sanctions against Iran just won't work. US has imposed technological sanctions on India many times before, and that just didn't work, which is why we have a nuclear deal today. As they say, if you can't defeat them, negotiate with them.

Azaad
Azaad

@likhon

Strong  arm...my foot. ...US authorities have been consistently insulting Indian envoys, politicians and diplomats. India's United Nations envoy and diplomat Hardeep Puri was asked to remove his turban during security check and when he refused on religious grounds, he was detained. Even India's US ambassador Meena Shankar was given a hands on search in the US soil. In 2009, India's President APJ Abdul Kalam was searched before he boarded his air flight. These incidents are not acceptable to any sovereign nation  especially a nation to whom US calls it close ally.

MattKar
MattKar

@likhonYour comments make it sound that it is only India that needs the US ? Do some good homework of the the geopolitical scenario here and then comment on who need who and how much. Giving favors and unbalanced privileges to the American staff at the consulates/Embassy in India,  at the cost of the honor of a nation is only a sign of a spineless state. India is rightly showing some spine now and justly so!

Azaad
Azaad

@SSwamy  After reading your comment its clear that you have no understanding of Indian culture though you show desi name.Please Google and read blog mindbodypolitic-com before commenting

BittuMian
BittuMian

@SSwamyIndia is an Independent Sovereign Country, It is no Banana Republic where you tell the Lady Consulate Officer to Spread Um.

selenabardman
selenabardman

@cjh2nd 

Exactly.

"Reciprocity" might be a diplomatic term here but in the more practical sense, it should be detaining American consular employees who have also been accused of this type of exploitation (in reciprocity).

TarunGoswami
TarunGoswami

@rsimhamb I can't believe this is happening. How did the SD let the matter slide to the point where a lying maid and a greedy lawyer has resulted in the evaporation of goodwill of Indian government & people, deepening distrust between nations and stripping off all the privileges that American embassy staff and their families enjoyed? High level meetings canceled?? Energy meeting canceled??


I think the maid wanted to work the system and get a green card and some quick bucks. 2 other maids have already successfully used the loophole before. But even if she is due some dough, the maid worked for what 6-7 months? She is due some 7000 - 10000 bucks. And we are spending millions of bucks of taxpayer money over court cases when this could have been resolved by asking DK to pay back wages? Even if the taxpayers paid the maid, it wouldn't be such a waste of money.


This issue is getting ridiculous by the day. 

Azaad
Azaad

@likhon@RationalistCentral  

Likhon this argument to apply law when it suits you and to avoid it when it doesn'tisan erroneous argument.One needs to apply common sense . Firstly we are talking about two countries that have two different sets of lawand two different cultures so if one hasn't stayed in both places they cant comment as they wont understand it. I have stayed in both US and India.

Forget the laws and lets talk exploitation and slave wages.

Case 1 - All day in America  people go to outsourcing websites like fiverr and will pay $5 to a worker in another part of world to do task that my cost $25 in US. That is exploitation because in US per capita income is higher than that country so US  employer should pay in proportionto that.Yes its illegal but its exploitation and slave wages.

Now imagine let say this maid is inIndia and you were outsourcing her the work over the weband paying $ 600 per month, then it would be acceptable because it’s legal but here in US its illegal to do the same. My dear exploitation is happening in both cases. Both parties are equally guilty.This has nothing to do with thelaw.

Case 2-IF you are using any products made in china you are also supporting slave wages. e g ...Mostpeople have ipods. In China where ipodis made workers are paid$5 per day and stay in horrible conditions in offices that have bunk beds and barbed wires.So before you point your fingers at others please know that you are equally guilty of crime. I dont give damm about legality.... so called 1% and crooks in wall street use legality to create booms and busts and siphon billion dollars and there is not a single criminal conviction .


There is a free book on web called "the Law" by Bastiat . Read it and if you will see how thegovt is plundering the American people and they need to sent to prison.



Azaad
Azaad

@likhon@Azaad 

likhon..lets discuus as you seem reasoble and i have investigated this case more than these journalist who write these silly one sided articles. I am sure we both want to find the truth. But first we need to remove our bias that we project in passing judgements.. you for the maid and me for diplomat..If you are open to it we can discuss, Also i  I need to know if you are involved with NGOs or human rights org as i dont discuss want to discuss with them as they are very biased

cheers

Azaad
Azaad

@JasmineLSunil@Azaad  

Jasmine please stick  to the point. Don't bring other scams into the scene.  Sangeeta husband was the firs one to Initiatein Indian court against Devyani and after few days he revoked the case. Why did he do so? Do you have an answer for that?

maxpain12
maxpain12

@JasmineLSunil @Azaad This has been a practice for a long time. Mind you the diplomat was not getting paid according to US salary so why do they hold her to pay her employees US wages. I think this whole complaint was a deliberate cheap attempt by the maid to get US residency which is exactly what she got. Not to mention a shortcut through the US immigration system for her family. A well calculated move as the maid knew that retaliation in India will only expedite her case. Unfortunately, everyone played their hand in favor of the maid. 

Azaad
Azaad

@VijaySSingh@BernieDC  

You should stop preaching morality when you are tainted with immorality . Read the link below to read about abuses by US diplomats proving US double standards . Big charade by US which has worst human rights and has become a police state. Ask Snowdeen:) 

http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2013/12/18/diplomatic-abuse-of-servants-not-just-for-indians/

Here read the reviews  int the link below and then judge. Vijay your country karma is so bad  that it will take it  100 reincarnations to clean the past. Let  me be clear American people are good but here i am talking about American Govt and not the people.


http://www.amazon.com/Confessions-Economic-Hit-John-Perkins/dp/0452287081/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1389342324&sr=8-1&keywords=john+perkins


likhon
likhon

@Azaad @BernieDC Stick to the case. You cannot defend India when it comes to "How one class treat the other class'. Does it exist in USA, sure but is not as rampant. Please don't even try that. Folk Tales - who are you kidding?

BernieDC
BernieDC

@MattKar Actually I was comparing it with slavery however feel free to interpret it in whatever way makes you feel happy.

likhon
likhon

@Azaad @likhon Removing the turban - It makes the airport worker ignorant who never went to college mind you. He/she didn't know any better. Besides you can't blame the USA about the security for obvious reasons.

VijaySSingh
VijaySSingh

@Azaad @likhon Nobody is above the law in usa. In India the law resides in the garbage. Even Indians face hard time when clearing Customs n Immigration in india.

likhon
likhon

@MattKar  'geopolitical scenario' .. who are you kidding? No one country needs just one country. I just said if India needs any help someday, they are shutting that door one by one by whatever they are doing in Delhi. Showing spine is a good thing. I don't disagree with you but why now? Why wasn't it done years ago? You can't defend the politicians! If this was not a election year, nothing would have happened. You know that I hope.

Azaad
Azaad

@selenabardman@cjh2nd  

Your version of reciprocity is not correct. Here is a scenario.  You have a neighbor and you are doing favors  to them that go well beyondwhat you are required to give.One day you wake up and realize then neighbortakes those favors as granted and doesn't actually appreciates or even reciprocate , youdecide to revoke them andfollow the book of reciprocity. Anyone can go by the book but human courtesies require more .

rsimhamb
rsimhamb

@TarunGoswami@rsimhamb Tarun - I'm certain that there's more than meets the eye on both sides.  Suffice to say, all this diplomatic shenanigans will stop quietly as soon as the impasse hits the purses of business interests on either side.  

Look, hundreds of millions are poor and hungry, and without good access to healthcare.  Imagine if the two governments actually spent the energy, money and time on solving those problems instead of Khobragate.  The politicians and governments on both sides are complicit in this nonsense, and what is even more infuriating is that the citizenry in both countries have neglected their number 1 civic duty by allowing these governments and bureaucracies to run amok and own the lives of the common man/woman.

Perhaps the maid was trying to game the system.  So what?  Why is it any worse than Devyani's dad gaming the system to get his daughter ahead instead of more qualified candidates, and why is it worse than Devyani getting an allotment for a prime apartment Adarsh, at heavily discounted rates, when Indian Armed Forces veterans are left without anything?  These bureaucrats are morally corrupt people, and by some sheer stroke of luck, justice has been served, albeit in another land.  They have no higher moral ground than the maid.  So, given that Devyani and Sangeeta both share potential deficiencies in their moral compasses, it is heartening to see them being treated as equals by the US justice system.


Perhaps there is a more sinister reason for the Indian politicians and bureaucracy to take up arms in such a manner.  Perhaps they are concerned that a bigger can of worms will be opened and that the Devyani case is the catalyst.


Regardless, I haven't had such interesting toilet reading in a while, and certainly hope it continues for a month or so.

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@TarunGoswami@rsimhamb

"I think the maid wanted to work the system and get a green card and some quick bucks."

in india, that might be enough to "prove" the maid is guilty but here, in america, we require this little thing called proof, and right now the evidence points to the maid being held as a slave, essentially. maybe your country should focus a little more on human rights instead of getting upset that the big bad americans called one of your politicians on her BS and embarrassed your country by letting the whole world know that, for all intents and purposes, your government supports slavery

RationalistCentral
RationalistCentral

There was absolutely no slavery. Evidence clearly shows maid was not a slave, had house keys, metro pass, cash for taxi and to handle grocery shopping. She was also free to resign and go back to india anytime (which she did not want at all). She was also not human trafficked, came her by plane with passport, kept her passport with herself, she didn't come in a shipping container.

So there in america, proof and evidence is obviously not important, only media propaganda is.. Note even the charges are not for slavery or human trafficking. What r the charges? False entry in visa form of maid ds 160. Why? There is a sponsor page with heading "Enter the following information about your employer". Followed by feilds marked Name, Address, Monthly Salary. Both maid and Devyani together filled the form together, entering Devyani's name address and salary here. But now US prosecutor is saying this should be maids salary., Since Devyani filled in 4500 $ here, that means she promised maid 4500 $.

A 10 yrs old child will tell you that is a fasle charge. Check out screenshot of sangeeta richard form ds160 easily found all over the net

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/devyani-khobragade-arrested-due-to-agents-mistake-in-reading-facts/1/332908.html

Azaad
Azaad

@VijaySSingh@Azaad@likhon

That's the biggest BS i have ever heard that ..."Nobody is above the law in US"

USambassador are caught doign sexual solicitation of minor and there i no criminal charge. Hereyou want to convict Indian diplomat for underpayment of wages. you must be kidding me. Wake up Vijay to the reality. This is pure arrogance and double standards.Read 8 cases of abuse by US diplomats . These cases are grave crimes and not underpayment of wages.

http://world.time.com/2014/01/09/acrimony-rising-over-indian-diplomat-case

Azaad
Azaad

@likhon@Azaad@selenabardman@cjh2nd

So now when does luxuries have been taken away, why is the  neighbor grumbling and why cant your diplomats learn to live within the rules of Indian continent.   I can challenge you that if India plays by the books, all American diplomats will leave India in 30 days.

Also why did US take those favors  in India if it is so ethical as not to break the rules .Was it ignorant enough that it dint know that it is violating the rules.

Why is that US will ask for immunity in Iraq and Afghanistan for all its soldiers, not just diplomats

Why are they above the local law.

MattKar
MattKar

@cjh2nd@TarunGoswami@rsimhambCertainly you have no idea about the evidence do you ? Don't put names like slave for a case of underpayment. Lifestyle, freedom and access all count toward reaching the S word and the maid had all of that just like any other free person.