US Attorney Preet Bharara took to the internet today to clarify a few things about Devyani Khobragade, the Indian diplomat who got arrested and strip searched last week for lying about paying her nanny only $3.31 an hour.
Diplomatic tensions erupted this week with the news of the strip search, prompting India to remove concrete security barriers that had been protecting the American embassy from speeding vehicles and suicide bombers. American diplomatic status was also downgraded.
International critics seemed particularly incensed over the fact that Khobragade was strip searched, a standard operating procedure for anyone being arrested and booked.
In fact, according to Bharara, Khobragade was actually given special treatment not typically afforded to other defendants.
Ms. Khobragade was accorded courtesies well beyond what other defendants, most of whom are American citizens, are accorded. 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. In fact, the arresting officers did not even seize her phone as they normally would have. Instead, they offered her the opportunity to make numerous calls to arrange personal matters and contact whomever she needed, including allowing her to arrange for child care. This lasted approximately two hours. Because it was cold outside, the agents let her make those calls from their car and even brought her coffee and offered to get her food. It is true that she was fully searched by a female Deputy Marshal — in a private setting — when she was brought into the U.S. Marshals’ custody, but this is standard practice for every defendant, rich or poor, American or not, in order to make sure that no prisoner keeps anything on his person that could harm anyone, including himself. This is in the interests of everyone’s safety.
Khobragade was arrested, Bharara says, because she "clearly tried to evade U.S. law designed to protect from exploitation the domestic employees of diplomats and consular officers."
Furthermore, Bharara alleges, Khobragade created a second secret contract where she "deleted the required language protecting the victim from other forms of exploitation and abuse."
Bharara also sheds some light on the actual victim in the case — Khobragade's nanny. Apparently Indian officials didn't limit their retaliation to American diplomats.
As also has been reported, legal process was started in India against the victim, attempting to silence her, and attempts were made to compel her to return to India. Further, the Victim’s family reportedly was confronted in numerous ways regarding this case. Speculation about why the family was brought here has been rampant and incorrect. Some focus should perhaps be put on why it was necessary to evacuate the family and what actions were taken in India vis-à-vis them.
[image via AP]