Skip to main content

Indian diplomat whose arrest and strip-search in NYC drew protests is indicted again

By Dominique Debucquoy-Dodley, CNN
updated 9:45 AM EDT, Mon March 17, 2014
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade faces arrest if she returns to the U.S., federal prosecutors said.
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade faces arrest if she returns to the U.S., federal prosecutors said.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Devyani Khobragade is indicted on visa fraud and false statement charges
  • Diplomat faces arrest if she returns to the United States
  • Indictment comes days after court dismisses the original indictment against her
  • Diplomatic immunity is key defense in Khobragade's case

New York (CNN) -- The Indian diplomat whose arrest sparked a diplomatic row with India has again been indicted by the federal government and faces arrest if she returns to the United States, federal prosecutors said Friday.

Devyani Khobragade faces one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements for allegedly lying on a visa application about how much she paid her housekeeper, according to the indictment filed in a Manhattan federal court Friday.

An arrest warrant also was issued, said Jerika Richardson, spokeswoman for the United States attorney's office for the Southern District of New York.

The fresh indictment comes just days after the original indictment against Khobragade was dismissed by a federal judge who agreed with her lawyers' assertion that she was protected under diplomatic immunity at the time of the first indictment.

Officials: Indian diplomat gets immunity
Tit for tat in India and U.S. relations?
Officials: Indian diplomat gets immunity

Federal prosecutors signaled Monday that a new indictment was likely.

Khobragade, who left the United States in January, now works for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.

Her attorney, Daniel Arshack, declined comment Friday. "The government of India will respond in due course," he said in a statement.

She was originally arrested and strip-searched by federal agents in New York City in December 2013. On January 9, a federal grand jury indicted her on one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements, the same charges she now faces.

Khobragade filed a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming she was "cloaked in diplomatic immunity at the time of her arrest," according to court documents.

A federal judge agreed on Monday, ruling that Khobragade was "appointed a Counselor to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, a position that cloaked her with full diplomatic immunity," according to court documents. She was appointed to that position on January 8, one day before her first indictment.

"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 wrote.

"The government may not proceed on an indictment obtained when Khobragade was immune from the jurisdiction of the court," Scheindlin ruled.

Arshack on Monday said Khobragade was pleased "the rule of law has prevailed."

India's external affairs spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin, issued a statement then welcoming the ruling.

Khobragade's case drew international attention, with Indian officials demanding apologies from Washington, and the United States announcing it would withdraw one official from its embassy in New Delhi.

READ: Charges against Indian diplomat who was strip searched dismissed

READ: India asks U.S. to withdraw official from its embassy in New Delhi, source says

READ: Opinion: Did India overreact to diplomat's arrest?

READ: Indian reaction to diplomat's arrest: Mix of Cold War legacy and politics?

CNN's Allison Malloy in New York and Harmeet Singh in New Delhi contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
updated 11:55 AM EDT, Sat July 26, 2014
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
updated 4:46 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Sun July 27, 2014
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
updated 8:48 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Thu July 24, 2014
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
updated 9:03 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
updated 4:04 AM EDT, Wed July 23, 2014
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
updated 2:08 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT