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U.S. Judge Throws Out Charges Against Indian Diplomat

Devyani Khobragade at an India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser in Long Island, N.Y., on Dec. 8, 2013.
Mohammed Jaffer
Reuters /Landov
Devyani Khobragade at an India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser in Long Island, N.Y., on Dec. 8, 2013.

A federal judge dropped charges on Wednesday against an Indian diplomat because she enjoys diplomatic immunity.

As Krishnadev reported back in January, the case of Devyani Khobragade, who was indicted on charges of falsifying visa documents for her Indian maid, "sparked a diplomatic row between India and the U.S."

According to a grand jury indictment, Khobragade said she was going to pay her maid $9 an hour. She actually paid her $3.

The indictment noted that Khobragade allegedly made "the Victim often work up to 100 or more hours per week without a single full day off, which, based on the promised salary of $573 per month, would result in an actual hourly wage of $1.42 per hour or less."

When American authorities arrested Khobragade, she was handcuffed and strip-searched.

Indian officials demanded an apology. Ultimately, the U.S. asked Khobragade to leave the country.

Today, The New York Times reports:

"The judge's ruling said Devyani Khobragade had diplomatic immunity when she was indicted on charges of fraudulently obtaining a work visa for her housekeeper and lying about the maid's pay. But the ruling leaves open the possibility prosecutors could bring a new indictment against her.

"The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan didn't immediately comment on its plans.

"Khobragade's attorney, Daniel Arshack, praised the ruling.

"'The judge did what the law required, and that is: that a criminal proceeding against an individual with immunity must be dismissed,' Arshack said. 'She's (Khobragade's) hugely frustrated by what has occurred. She is heartened that the rule of law prevailed.'"

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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