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HindustanTimes Wed,17 Sep 2014

Diplomat row: what happened in the last 48 hours

HT Correspondent and Reuters  Washington, January 10, 2014
First Published: 10:45 IST(10/1/2014) | Last Updated: 11:22 IST(10/1/2014)

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, whose December 12 arrest and strip-search provoked outrage and caused a major rift between India and the United States, headed home on Thursday at the request of the US state department.

The following is a timeline of events immediately before her departure:

January 8: India orders the United States to close an US embassy club in New Delhi.

America mission to the United Nations sends Khobragade a letter accrediting her as member of India's permanent mission and conferring diplomatic immunity as of 5:47pm (local time), according to a copy of the letter provided by Khobragade's lawyer Daniel Arshack.

Just after 7pm (local time), US magistrate judge Sarah Netburn in New York refuses a request to extend a January 13 court deadline, which Khobragade had sought to continue discussions with prosecutors.

US energy secretary Ernest Moniz postpones a trip to India, planned for next week, due to escalating tensions.

January 9: India refuses US request to waive immunity. US mission to UN files diplomatic note with Indian mission requesting Khobragade's immediate departure, according to a copy of the note provided by Khobragade's lawyer.

"Upon her departure a warrant may be issued for her arrest and should she seek to enter the United States she could be arrested," the note said.

Khobragade is to board an Air India flight from New York to New Delhi, according to court papers. The flight was scheduled to depart at 2:25pm (local time). Her lawyer, Arshack, advises her not to leave before getting a judge's permission, court records show.

Just after 3:30pm (local time), Preet Bharara, the US attorney in the Southern District of New York, says Khobragade has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of visa fraud and making false statements.

In a letter to US district judge Shira Scheindlin, prosecutors also say they have been told Khobragade has been granted diplomatic immunity and has left the country.

Bharara said in the letter that the 39-year-old diplomat will have to face trial, if she returns to the US without diplomatic immunity.

At 4:40pm (local time), a hearing on the case before Scheindlin begins. Scheindlin gives Khobragade permission to leave the country in accordance with the US government's request.

Minutes after the hearing starts, Bharara's office releases a statement saying Khobragade's lawyer had told prosecutors she was still in the country, giving no further explanation.

"This office had been advised by the state department that, pursuant to their request, Devyani Khobragade was to have left the United States this afternoon.

In a letter sent to the court upon the filing of the indictment of Ms Khobragade, we stated our understanding that she had left the country. Subsequent to the filing of the letter, Ms Khobragade’s lawyer advised that she has not, in fact, departed the US.”

Arshack later confirms that Khobragade is planning to leave the United States on Thursday night but doesn't say on which flight.

A search showed that United Airlines operated the only direct flight from the New York area to New Delhi on Thursday night, departing from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey at 8:40pm.

A United Airlines spokesman declined to confirm or deny that she had a ticket for the flight.

January 10: Ministry of external affairs says on Friday that India has transferred Khobragade to the MEA in New Delhi.

"Devyani Khobragade given G1 visa by #USA according her full diplomatic immunity. #India transfers her back. She  is now flying home (sic)," Syed Akbaruddin, MEA spokesperson, posts on Twitter.

(With inputs from Reuters)


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