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Amazing what a threat to stop US businessmen from enjoying luxury club facilities provided by the State Department in New Delhi, India will do!

In a diary yesterday, I described the escalation in sanctions against US diplomats in India that were being proposed in retaliation to the arrest and strip search of an Indian diplomat in New York. Special airport passes and diplomatic ID cards had already been withdrawn by India. Security barriers around the embassy had been removed. The Indian government had then announced that US diplomats there would only enjoy the same privileges as theirs do in the USA. That meant they would not longer be immune from traffic offences such as running red lights or illegal parking. That however was unlikely to have been treated as much of a threat given that the State Department regularly refuses to pay such fines or fees including, for example, the London Congestion Charge or parking fines there. The State Department also appeared indifferent to the consequences of poorer trade relations having already cancelled a planned visit by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

The other sanction announced by India was the order to close the  American Community Support Association club at the New Delhi embassy as they had violated the Vienna Convention (on diplomatic relations) by offering membership at $1200 a year to US non-diplomats. It appears that having to endure the summer heat without benefit of the restaurant, bar, tennis court, bowling alley and swimming pool was too much to contemplate. The British Raj abandoned Delhi in the hottest months and decamped to various hill towns. Without that option, on Thursday the empasse was suddenly resolved by the US.

After Devyani Khobragade was formally indited by a Grand Jury in New York, prosecutors immediately announced the affair was over:

(She) had also been granted immunity and that US officials had asked her to leave the country.

Prosecutors initially said she had already left but were later told by her lawyer that she was still in the US.

Looks like US diplomatic influence is now more shtick than "big stick"!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:07:22 PM PST

  •  seems to me what's lost in all this (8+ / 0-)

    is the fate of the abused domestic that this woman brought over here in the first place and why this whole affair started in the first place.

    where's the justice for her?

    hope springs eternal and DAMN is she getting tired!

    by alguien on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:18:26 PM PST

    •  she has got what she wanted ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pluto, Lib Dem FoP, svboston

      Sangeetha Richard & her family are on their way to a Green Card and Citizenship.

      I am curious - how did you conclude that she was abused?

      •  Plus (0+ / 0-)

        she does not have to deal with the allegations that she attempted blackmail now her main accuser has left.

        We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

        by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:32:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  How are they on their way to green card and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt

        citizenship?

        I'm a long-time immigration lawyer, and I don't think that's plausible.

        Let's have some facts and good links, not just infinite thoughts.

        •  Part of what Devyani Khobragade was indicted for (0+ / 0-)

          was falsifying papers for the maid who finally went to a group specializing in combating human trafficking. Since threats were made against the maids family I assume they brought them here for safety.

          It was the least the US could do in exchange for getting their amenities back. Weasels!

          Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

          by ZenTrainer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:34:44 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's not responsive to my question. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NYFM, kurt

            I see no path here to permanent resident status (green card) for the domestic.

            •  They brought her whole family here recently (0+ / 0-)

              according to the first report I read on MSN. I think the group is called Safe Haven. I assume the family is being allowed in because their lives were threatened.

              We give that type of asylum don't we?

              You can get more info here:

              The case is U.S. v. Khobragade, 14-cr-00008, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

              To contact the reporter on this story: Patricia Hurtado in Federal Court in Manhattan at pathurtado@bloomberg.net

              To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

              Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

              by ZenTrainer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:48:57 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I don't know what you're talking about, but (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                kurt, HarpboyAK, CentralMass, RUNDOWN

                I've spent an awful lot of time trying to track it down.

                I can't find any evidence that the maid Sunitha (or Sunita) Richard obtained asylum, much less her family.

                I don't think that would be included in court files of the criminal case against the Indian "diplomat" Khobragade.

                Do you really think I'm going to contact reporters and editors on this?  Really?

                As I said, as a senior U.S. immigration lawyer for more than 20 years, I can't imagine any way the maid and her family could be immigrated to the United States on some kind of "asylum" claim.  U.S. asylum law is brutal.  Maybe they'd get lucky in a politically charged case like this, but I don't see any evidence of it tonight.

                I'll be happy to correct that if you have any actual evidence to the contrary.

                And in any case, whether or not the maid and/or her family gets a happy ending has no bearing on the misconduct of the Indian "diplomat."

                I keep putting "diplomat" in quotes because it's pretty obvious to me this is not a real diplomat.  This is a very rich and powerful woman getting a special arrangement from the government of India so she can stay with her family in the United States.  The story is not what it is claimed to be.

                •  T1 (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ZenTrainer, Timaeus

                  I read she may be getting a T1 visa for trafficking victims.  Not sure if that can lead to residency status.

                  Cynicism is what passes for insight among the mediocre.

                  by Sky Net on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 04:18:21 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                •  Oh. I thought you wanted facts so I pointed you (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Timaeus

                  to where you could get them. I have contacted reporters before out of the blue like this and now I have a good relationship with a few.

                  Rather than spend a lot of time trying to track it down you could just contact this reporter.

                  And no I don't think she was a diplomat before but I think she is now, albeit a fake one.

                  Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

                  by ZenTrainer on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:38:14 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

          •  That's really fascinating, and that's sure a (0+ / 0-)

            stretch of the congressional intent in creating the T visa category.

            This is a very rare and unusual situation, from an immigration lawyer's perspective!

            Thanks very much for that link.

      •  Well the press reported that she was paid $2 an (5+ / 0-)

        hour, worked over 90 hours a week, had her passport confiscated (by her employer) and had to beg to be taken to the doctor when sick.

        Sounds abusive to me.

        http://www.nytimes.com/...

        Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

        by ZenTrainer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:30:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, it's criminally abusive, which is why the (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ZenTrainer, NYFM, kurt, CentralMass, gramofsam1

          feds are going after the Indian "diplomat."  (Does anybody think she's an authentic "diplomat"?)

          •  I think she is now. (0+ / 0-)

            Tracy B Ann - technically that is my signature. If I had Bill Gates money, I'd buy Detroit.

            by ZenTrainer on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:50:09 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't. Changes in diplomatic status are not (0+ / 0-)

              automatically valid due to an expression from a foreign government.  A sham designation can always be challenged by the United States.  I think that's what we've got here.

          •  Yes - the US State Department (0+ / 0-)

            The State Department has confirmed her diplomatic status following the appointment to the UN delegation.

            If you do not consider a Deputy Consul General to be a diplomat, there are 25 individuals named on the list of "key officers" for the US Consulate in Mumbai alone of that rank or below.

            I presume you consider these and those of similar status in the other US consulates and the main Embassy should not enjoy diplomatic status.

            We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

            by Lib Dem FoP on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 03:51:47 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I might well be wrong, but my experienced (0+ / 0-)

              suspicion is that this woman was not really doing much if any "diplomatic" work, but was given that status by the Indian government due to her family's wealth and influence.  

              Technically and legally she may have enjoyed some measure of diplomatic status, but I just don't think she was a genuine diplomat.

              And, of course, yes, the United States has puffed up rich people in foreign lands running the same kind of scam.

        •  Those are her claims (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Timaeus

          I don't deny many Indian maids have a right to file for abuse. But these claims are not necessarily fact in this maid's case. She needs to produce some solid proof. The diplomat dug her own grave by lying on the forms losing a lot of credibility and puts her at a disadvantage.

          I personally think the maid did  a clever thing and got one up on a greedy lady. So maybe some credit to her for turning the tables on the employer.

      •  'Abuse' is not merely physical beatings. (0+ / 0-)

        The treatment she received from her employer was certainly as abusive as any other employee who had wages stolen and was intimidated into continuing to work for less than legal wages.

  •  Sniff! Nobody loves US any more. (4+ / 0-)

    We'll have to keep beating the world 'til their attitude improves, I guess. They don't really leave us a choice.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:21:27 PM PST

  •  It would be amazing if USians (3+ / 0-)

    …knew the whole story -- which they can never learn from the Anglo news.

    Quick recap:  The maid disappeared in June. The Indian delegate went to the police in June to report her missing. She told the NYPD that her visa did not allow the maid to roam the US. The maid contacted her, seeking blackmail -- back pay a for 19 hours per day and an unlimited US visa.

    Fast forward to a deep cavity search with flashlights, when she was arrested while picking up her five year old from school in December -- the child turned over to protective custody.

    Now, let's have a conversation.

    India law says that homosexuals with the US delegation are committing a felony, especially those traveling with spouses and domestic companions. Should these US delegates be picked up by the Indian police and cavity searched with flashlights? Or, do they have immunity?

  •  I hope you all rec this Diary (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Foothills of Oblivion

    Because it's about time the USian people had a clue about what is going on here -- in the American colony, and in the former India colony, as well. We might have something to learn from one another about Anglo oppression.

    This has nothing to do with minimum wage.

    •  There is also a wider point (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      InfiniteThoughts, Pluto

      How many of these "Support Association Clubs" are being paid for by US taxpayers to benefit US businessmen and others in a sort of upmarket PX?

      And how many in "dry" countries are being used so that the non-diplomats can freely purchase alcohol? As was pointed out in another diary, these arrangements also get round local taxation and duties on such products. There is almost certainly a "turning the blind eye" by host countries but it ill behoves the USA to make such a screw-up over particularly the manner of the arrest and strip search while at the same time ignoring the provisions of the Vienna Convention themselves in such a blatant manner.

      This is by the way the lead story on BBC News bulletins which at this time of night are also carried on BBC World TV.

      We will work, we will play, we will laugh, we will live. We will not waste one moment, nor sacrifice one bit of our freedom, because of fear.

      by Lib Dem FoP on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 07:42:46 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bottomline -- another Imbecile Bush (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ypochris, Pablo Bocanegra

        …appointed rogue Neocon fucks up the US standing in the world.

        President Obama got rid on NONE of them. He even kept that cowardly bastard Gates as SOD. And, deserved exactly the murderous outcome he got. All other Presidents fire all of these appointees and reappoint new Federal Judges and Official Swinging Dicks.

    •  Really? What does it have to do with, then? (0+ / 0-)

      I understand that police behaved abominably towards the diplomat, but there seems to be a part of the story that existed before that incident as well.

  •  The Indictment Still Stands (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus, kurt, Progrocks

    From my understanding, the United States asked the Indian government to allow the judicial process to continue, but they refused. However, her indictment is still pending in federal court if she ever returns.

    From the New York Times:

    Mr. Bharara’s office, writing to a federal judge on Thursday, said that the criminal charges against Ms. Khobragade would remain pending.

    “We will alert the court promptly if we learn that the defendant returns to the United States in a nonimmune capacity,” the prosecutors told Judge Shira A. Scheindlin, “at which time the government will proceed to prosecute this case and prove the charges in the indictment.”

    The politics some in India played with this incident was disgraceful. Some Indian politicians were pushing for the arrest of all same-sex partners of gay American diplomats within India, since India's Supreme Court has criminalized consensual sex among gay adults.
  •  what really ticks me off ... (0+ / 0-)

    What really ticks me off is that US has made Devyani into a martyr in India a few weeks after a very damaging report.

    A bit of history - India and Pakistan fought the Kargil war in 1999. After the war, there was massive interest in taking care of widows & soldiers of the war. Mumbai's state gov (Maharastra) started the Adarsh Housing society to house retired soldiers and widows. Through classic corruption, defense land was occupied illegally and the apartments built were distributed amongst politicians, civil servants and senior military officers. The judicial commission filed a report to bring charges against 4 Chief Ministers (Gov equivalents!), 2 ministers and 12 diplomats including Devyani for subverting rules and purchasing apartments. Devyani received the apartment through her dad's recommendation for $120,000 when she wasn't eligible and the market value was closer to $1.2M

    Instead of revoking her assignment and making her stand trial against the charges, the stupidity of US arrest has created a martyr and an excuse will be created to let her off the hook for the adarsh housing scam

    (mocking!) Well done, DoJ/State Dept ...

  •  It would be nice if this incident (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, kurt

    brought about some changes in the way people who get arrested are welcomed into the system. Routine strip/cav search seems pretty darned cruel, ought to be unusual, too. Not everyone who's brought in is guilty, but this is a punitive, nasty practice.

    •  Flashlight shoved the vagina and anus (0+ / 0-)

      …is the new "black."

    •  "Strip Searches" (0+ / 0-)

      are relatively rare.  They are usually performed on people being brought in on drug charges and/or people that have turned themselves in who have warrants.  

      I performed many a "strip search" in my days as a Deputy Sheriff... you would not believe what people are willing to shove up their body cavities- knives, guns, cigarettes, drugs, razor blades, matches, etc.  

      I, personally, found: matches, meth, cigarettes, alcohol, marijuana, scissors, a cell phone, yeast (the kind you use for making alcohol), the person's REAL ID, just to name a few.

      Yes, they are awful, but they serve a purpose...

      Why this woman was strip searched I have NO idea and I am not justifying it.

      The tyranny of a prince in an oligarchy is not so dangerous to the public welfare as the apathy of a citizen in a democracy. -Charles de Montesquieu

      by dawgflyer13 on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 08:26:14 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Weren't they mostly mad (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ZenTrainer, Roadbed Guy

    because she came from the wealthy class? Like it's not as big a deal to subject poor women to strip searches, but because she was wealthy, it's the worst thing imaginable. Sorry if I'm wrong but I remember reading that.

  •  this is one of those lovely stories (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tardis10, kurt, CentralMass, Roadbed Guy

    where there are no good guys. stendhal could have written it.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:19:34 PM PST

  •  This should have been a civil matter all along (0+ / 0-)

    I can say for certain that diplomats are very abusive towards their nationals who work as domestic servants here. I had a woman seek counsel from me along with her mother who was a servant for an Ambassador from a Certain African Regime -- the allegation there was that the woman wasn't being paid at all, and her passport was being held. I discussed with them potential civil remedies. Perhaps they were looking for more than that, but it didn't occur to me to discuss potential criminal sanction.

    In this case, where the question isn't slavery so much as an underpayment of the local minimum wage, I think it would make much more sense to settle this civilly. Arresting the diplomat was over the top.

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:58:27 PM PST

  •  Both Devyani and the maid tried to take advantage (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Timaeus

    The maid Sangeetha has a husband who drives for another embassy. I hardly call her naïve. They all talk and share ideas. I highly doubt she was so naïve as to what she was getting into. The fact that she was asking for permission to take on a second job tells me that she was no overworked. If you google some of the British and indian papers, it just doesn't look like a case of abuse .  Having relatives in India and having lived there during some of my middle years, I got a sense of the working class there. yes, there are some horrible abusive Indians there and even rich Indians  in the US who bring maids and underpay and overwork them.  It takes a lot of restraint not to punch some Indians who verbally scream at their maids in India. We have had some high profile cases in Long Island and surrounding areas. But the US and human rights organizations wasted time on this maid. Just based on my experience, I think she knew that the pay they agreed upon was less than what the regular US pay was and she preplanned waiting for a good time to leave the house and claim being overworked. As far as the hours worked, well she lived in the house, she can state how many hours she wants as hours worked.

    In the worst case, she was earning more than she earned in India , expenses are paid for, and she returns to India with more savings. In the best case, she gets to seek asylum in the US. The whole thing is very shady.

    Having said that, I have no sympathy for the diplomat. She has a scandal in India where heer father's connections got her a subsidized apartment meant for poor soldiers. She is a diplomat who knowingly lied on the application and it is irrelevant that other INdian diplomats have done the same.

    Since she married a US Citizen, my question is why is her American husband off the hook? And while I did not feel the maid's case was nowhere in the same league as other abused maids, this diplomat's future was clearly as a long term resident in the US. So forget legalities. She should be hiring local help or foreign help at local prices because this is not a short term all expenses paid trip for the maid. This is why I don't care for illegal immigration. It just brings down our working class living standards.

    Our government was right to bring charges on this woman. But human rights organizations should spend more time on helping the truly exploited.Worst diplomatic infractions go unpunished. This is not worthy of the headlines.  You want really exploited. Check out the story of the Chinese lady who actually is a resident of the US who was exploited by the Murdochs , especially Wendy Murdoch and that  woman got away scott free.

    •  Or... (0+ / 0-)
      The fact that she was asking for permission to take on a second job tells me that she was no overworked.
      it proves that she realized the pay she was getting wouldn't get her squat at US prices, and she still needed more money, overworked or not.
      •  I think it was somewhere in between (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dr Erich Bloodaxe RN

        From what I read, every account seems to say that her food and phone and other expenses were paid for. Then again, the maid would need US wages if she wanted to have a life outside the house. That is the question for me. to determine the level of abuse(I agree about the legal violations which the diplomat must pay for). Was this supposed to be a short visit or was the maid supposed to live long term with the family where she would actually want to have a life in the US and be expected to spend money on other things which have nothing to do with food or shelter.  Then again, I am not going to believe the diplomats 100% on this either since they lied about other things. I have also seen enough Indian families exert too much control on the free time of their maid just because they assume that the maid wont be interested in going out on her own in the US. Not conscious abuse, but I consider it inexcusable neglect of the maid's sense of recreation.  I think the truth is somewhere in between on the abuse, though the truth favors our government fully on the lies about wages on the application.

        But as I said, this is hardly unique. We have so many illegal immigrants who come here because even the piss poor wages they get here are better than what they get at home and we condone this in terms of human rights, but in the big picture everyone loses because our domestic workforce gets paid less and conditions in their home countries do not improve.

  •  My general vibe on this is that the diplomat was (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sky Net

    arrogant, unethical, and used to getting her way who. She got caught breaking the law and she thought she was above it all.

     The U.S. Is not retaliating against India for thei civil and governmental over- response that appears to  be occurring.

  •  Somehow this story reminds me of an Indian (0+ / 0-)

    restaurateur from the Bay Area (California) from the 90s who was bringing over a steady stream of sex slaves for himself on H visas .. . which went on for years, literally before anybody did anything about it.

  •  Caves? This was the best resolution possible. (0+ / 0-)

    The consular officer committed visa fraud, a serious crime; but not say, murder or rape.

    As a general matter of politeness, the host country allows the accused to scuttle back to their own country with their tail between their legs, if their home country doesn't support trying them.

    As long as she doesn't come back to the US, the matter is resolved.

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