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India Demands US Drop Case Against Diplomat


FILE - India's External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid
India's foreign minister has demanded that the United States drop a case against an Indian diplomat who was arrested in New York City for alleged visa fraud.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid told reporters Thursday that India is not convinced the U.S. has a case against Devyani Khobragade who he said had been treated like a common criminal.

He said India has asked for all charges against her to be withdrawn immediately and that he would speak to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry later Thursday.

The 39-year-old Khobragade is accused of making false statements in support of the visa application of an Indian national she brought to the United States to serve as household staff.

On Wednesday, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement saying Khobragade was extended courtesies far beyond what other defendants, most of whom are American citizens, are accorded.

Bharara questioned why Khobragade's case has garnered more sympathy in India than that of her employee, who allegedly was paid only a third of the amount Khobragade had reported to U.S. officials.

Kerry called a top Indian official Wednesday to express regret over the incident.

In an e-mail published Wednesday, Khobragade said after her December 12 arrest she faced repeated handcuffing and cavity searches while being held on visa fraud charges.

She said she broke down in tears multiple times during the ordeal and was held in a space with common criminals and drug addicts despite her repeated assertions that she has diplomatic immunity.

Supporters of a small opposition party staged an anti-U.S. protest in New Delhi on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Indian authorities asked U.S. consular officers to return their identity cards, rescinded airport passes and removed concrete security barriers from in front of the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi.

Khobragade, who says she is innocent, has been released on $250,000 bail.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.
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