Both the U.S. Secretary of State and the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office have responded to allegations that Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade was mistreated during her arrest last week for visa fraud.
On Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry called Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon to discuss the arrest of the Indian deputy consul general in New York. State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf described Kerry's conversation.
"The Secretary understands very deeply the importance of enforcing our laws and protecting victims, and, like all officials in positions of responsibility inside the U.S. Government, expects that laws will be followed by everyone here in our country. It is also particularly important to Secretary Kerry that foreign diplomats serving in the United States are accorded respect and dignity just as we expect our own diplomats should receive overseas.
"As a father of two daughters about the same age as Devyani Khobragade, the Secretary empathizes with the sensitivities we are hearing from India about the events that unfolded after Ms. Khobragade’s arrest, and in his conversation with National Security Advisor Menon he expressed his regret, as well as his concern that we not allow this unfortunate public issue to hurt our close and vital relationship with India."
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement issued Wednesday that Khobragade "was accorded courtesies well beyond what other defendants” and that "She was not, as has been incorrectly reported, arrested in front of her children. The agents arrested her in the most discreet way possible, and unlike most defendants, she was not then handcuffed or restrained." After her arrest, she was "fully searched by a female deputy marshal -- in a private setting . . . but this is standard practice for every defendant, rich or poor, American or not.”
The diplomatic drama began last week when Khobragade, 39, was arrested for making false statements in support of a visa application for an Indian national whom she had brought to New York as part of her household staff. Authorities also claim Khobragade paid the woman less than minimum wage.
Khobragade's lawyer alleged the diplomat was strip-searched and detained with hard-core criminals. The Indian government responded to the allegations of mistreatment with retaliatory actions against the U.S. diplomatic staff in India and the removal of concrete barricades outside the U.S. Embassy in Dheli, India.
[U.S. Department of State]