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The Khobragade issue wound down just as suddenly and dramatically as it had started, with Manhattan US attorney Preet Bharara in much the same unenviable place.
He informed a New York court in a note sent along with Devyani Khobragade’s indictment that she had been “accorded diplomatic immunity status and that she departed the United States today (Thursday)”.
And that seemed like a clean end. Only, it wasn’t.
A furious Daniel Arshack, the diplomat’s lawyer, told Bharara’s office she was very much in the US, and told HT the prosecutor’s office knew that. (Khobragade left for India a day later, on Friday.)
“Why would they make that up? Where is the apology? This was just another in a string of mistakes,” Arshack said, adding, prosecutors and investigators in this case have been “sloppy and wrong”.
Bharara’s office declined to comment on the lawyer’s charges, pointing out that it had nothing to say beyond Thursday’s statement. It, however, corrected the mistakes in the note to the court.
A spokesperson from the prosecutor’s office said, “This office had been advised by the State Department that, pursuant to their request, Devyani Khobragade was to have left the United States this (Thursday) afternoon…Ms. Khobragade’s lawyer advised that she has not, in fact, departed the US.”
This mix-up does no good to Bharara’s image, which has taken considerable beating in the land of his birth, India, where he was once upheld as an iconic Indian-American.
The prosecutor first courted trouble with his remarks defending the case and expressing amazement that the diplomat, and not the domestic worker, was seen as the victim.
Worse, from the point of view of his critics in India, he defended removing the housekeeper’s family from India, which the government in New Delhi has taken very seriously.