Diplomat strip search, arrest: Lawyer says investigator goofed reading forms, leading to charges

Published: December 24, 2013
STRIP SEARCH

This Dec. 8, 2013 photo shows Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general, during the India Studies Stony Brook University fund raiser event at Long Island, New York. AP Photo/Mohammed Jaffer

LARRY NEUMEISTER
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW YORK — A lawyer for an Indian diplomat whose arrest and strip search in New York City drew angry responses from officials in India accused U.S. authorities Tuesday of bungling the investigation.

Attorney Daniel Arshack said the agent who drew up charges against his client made a key error in reading a form submitted on behalf of a domestic worker for Devyani Khobragade, India’s deputy consul general in New York. She was arrested two weeks ago and charged with submitting false documents to obtain a work visa for her New York City housekeeper.

Arshack said in an email that the error was in “erroneously and disastrously” mistaking Khobragade’s listed base salary of $4,500 per month for what she intended to pay her housekeeper.

The lawyer said Khobragade’s salary needed to be listed on the form so that U.S. embassy officials in India would know that Khobragade had sufficient income to be able to pay her housekeeper $1,560 per month, or $9.75 per hour for a 40-hour workweek. In court documents, authorities claim she paid her housekeeper about $3.31 per hour.

In an interview, Arshack said it became apparent as he and others closely reviewed the forms Khobragade was required to submit to arrange for the hiring of her housekeeper that the information she had submitted had been misunderstood.

“It’s incredibly unsexy kind of information, but it does go right to the heart of what this is about,” he said.

Prosecutors declined to comment on Arshack’s claims.

Arshack has represented Khobragade since she was arrested Dec. 13, charged with lying on a visa form about how much she paid her housekeeper.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has expressed regret over the case while Indian officials have said they are outraged, particularly at a strip-search of Khobragade that they say was degrading and unnecessary, though U.S. authorities have called it standard procedure.

Khobragade has said she has full diplomatic immunity, though U.S. officials have said her immunity is limited to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions.

She has been transferred to India’s United Nations mission, an assignment that has been processed by the Indian government and the United Nations but awaits U.S. State Department approval. She would have broader immunity in that position.

In an unusual statement last week, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara responded to what he described as misinformation and factual inaccuracy in the case by saying Khobragade was accused of creating false documents and lying to the U.S. government about what she was doing, including hiring a housekeeper who was working far more than the 40 hours per week she was contracted to work.

He also questioned why there was “precious little outrage” about the treatment of the Indian housekeeper and her husband while there was so much about the alleged treatment of Khobragade.

He said his office’s sole motivation was to uphold the law, protect victims and hold lawbreakers accountable, “no matter what their societal status and no matter how powerful, rich or connected they are.”

15:28ET 24-12-13

[+]

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,



Readers Comments (0)

Comments are closed.

Featured

Ottawa's Elgin Street courthouse.

Federal court judge upholds passport ban on Toronto-area man who changed name

MEGHAN HURLEY OTTAWA CITIZEN A federal court judge upheld a decision to ban a Toronto-area man who changed his name based on advice from an…
Continue Reading »

Red-Carpet-300x186

Accepting nominations: Surrey’s Darpan Magazine to hold Extraordinary Achievement Awards next month

TOM ZILLICH SURREY NOW The achievements of 10 local people will be celebrated at an invitation-only gala event next month. The fifth annual Extraordinary Achievement…
Continue Reading »

india

Indian minister refers to Dec. 16 fatal gang rape as “small incident” that hurt tourism

IANS New Delhi  – An Indian minister is embroiled in controversy after he referred to Delhi’s fatal Dec. 16 gang rape as a “small incident”…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Ottawa's Elgin Street courthouse.

Federal court judge upholds passport ban on Toronto-area man who changed name

MEGHAN HURLEY OTTAWA CITIZEN A federal court judge upheld a decision to ban a Toronto-area man who changed his name based on advice from an…
Continue Reading »

Red-Carpet-300x186

Accepting nominations: Surrey’s Darpan Magazine to hold Extraordinary Achievement Awards next month

TOM ZILLICH SURREY NOW The achievements of 10 local people will be celebrated at an invitation-only gala event next month. The fifth annual Extraordinary Achievement…
Continue Reading »

Abraham Azhakathu

Travel request from Alberta priest accused of sexual assault rejected

THE CANADIAN PRESS PEACE RIVER, Alta. — A Catholic priest in northwestern Alberta who is accused of sexually assaulting a minor has been told he…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

teen music video

Vancouver teen’s music video gets over 300k views in less than a week

VANCOUVER DESI Vancouver teen and aspiring musician Sid Bhullar has released his third music video online  – and within one week he’s already surpassed 300,000…
Continue Reading »

Unruly passenger tied to his seat

Drunk Air India passenger tied to his seat on flight after attacking people onboard, tearing clothes of two pursers

VANCOUVER DESI An Air India passenger, who went wild after a few drinks and allegedly tore the clothes of two pursers and bit some fellow…
Continue Reading »

Const. Ian MacDonald says: ‘You don’t want to see anybody carted away in an ambulance over this, and that is a very real possibility. Ric Ernst/PNG

‘It’s pride getting in the way’: Feuding Indo-Canadian youth factions worry Abbotsford cops (w/ video)

JENNIFER SALTMAN  VANCOUVER DESI  No one really knows how the conflict started. According to a number of people who are involved, in February one person…
Continue Reading »

Stone-health-Kaleem

Eight-year-old Indian boy’s swollen hands are larger than his head

VANCOUVER DESI Kaleem, an eight-year-old Indian boy suffering from a mystery condition has puzzled doctors after his hands swelled to giant proportions and are larger…
Continue Reading »

India-surgery

Doctors remove unborn child’s skeleton from woman’s womb after 36 years

VANCOUVER DESI In an unusual surgery, doctors in India removed the skeleton of an unborn baby from its mother’s womb after 36 years, the Press…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

The ice bucket challenge has hit Bollywood. From L to R: Sonakshi Sinha, Abhishek Bachcan and Mandira Bedi. YouTube.

The ALS ice bucket challenge hits Bollywood (w/ video)

VANCOUVER DESI The ALS ice bucket challenge has officially hit Bollywood. Originating in the U.S., the icy cold feat has swept the globe, dominating news…
Continue Reading »

Indian comedy actor  Kapil Sharma and Sumona Chakravarti pose during a press conference to promote 'Comedy Nights with Kapil'. NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

Kapil Sharma onto new ventures, including Comedy Nights tour that will reach Canada

IANS Mumbai  – Popular stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma, who is set to make his Bollywood debut with director duo Abbas-Mustan’s untitled film, is looking forward…
Continue Reading »

Barfi! hit Japan theatres on Friday.

Award-winning film Barfi! hits theatres in Japan

IANS New Delhi — After garnering appreciation in countries like South Korea, Turkey, Taiwan, China and Hong Kong, Ranbir Kapoor’s Barfi! hit theatres in Japan…
Continue Reading »