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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Khobragade’s non-official duties not covered by diplomatic immunity: US

Yashwant Raj, Hindustan Times  Washington, December 17, 2013
First Published: 20:33 IST(17/12/2013) | Last Updated: 21:07 IST(17/12/2013)
The United States defended the arrest of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York, saying her non-official duties are not covered by diplomatic immunity.

 
But it offered no comments on the manner of her arrest — strip-searching and handcuffing — on charges of visa fraud.
 
She was arrested last Thursday after dropping her daughter to school.
 
“Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the Indian deputy consul general enjoys immunity from the jurisdiction of US courts only with respect to acts performed in the exercise of consular functions,” US state department spokesperson Marie Harf said on Monday.
 
“So in this case, she fell under that specific kind of immunity, and would be liable to arrest pending trial pursuant a felony arrest warrant.”
 
But the spokesperson refused to answer questions about Khobragade being strip-searched and handcuffed, which has offended and angered the Indian government.
 
Harf said the state department’s Diplomatic Security followed standard procedures during the arrest, and then the diplomat was passed on to US Marshals “for intake and processing”.
 
The Department of Justice, which oversees US Marshals, had not responded to a mail requesting comment and details of the arrest till the filing of this report.
 
The state department had on Friday expressed the wish that the arrest would not impact relations between the two countries. But there were no signs yet of a change in the official narrative.
 
In 2011, the Los Angeles police department had handcuffed a female Austrian diplomat. The police officials involved are facing disciplinary action.
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