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Diplomat from India indicted, to leave U.S.

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By The Associated Press
Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014, 9:36 p.m.
 

NEW YORK — An Indian diplomat accused of lying about how much she paid her housekeeper was asked to leave the United States on Thursday after she was indicted on two criminal charges and Indian authorities refused to waive immunity, authorities said.

Devyani Khobragade, 39, was charged by a federal grand jury in New York City with visa fraud and making false statements in a case that has triggered an outcry in India. She's accused of fraudulently obtaining a work visa for her New York housekeeper.

Khobragade was expected to leave the country Thursday night, a U.S. government official in Washington said.

The official, who was not authorized to speak about the case publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. accepted India's request to accredit her to the United Nations, which confers broader immunity than what she enjoyed as a consular official. It would be almost unprecedented for the U.S. to deny such a request unless the diplomat was a national security risk.

The United States asked the government of India to waive the immunity, but the Indians refused, the official said.

The United States then “requested her departure” from the country, the official said.

Authorities say Khobragade claimed to pay her Indian maid $4,500 per month but actually gave her far less than the U.S. minimum wage. The indictment said Khobragade had made multiple false representations to U.S. authorities, or caused them to be made, to obtain a visa for a personal domestic worker. She planned to bring the worker to the United States in September 2012 when she worked at the Consulate General of India in New York, according to the indictment.

The maid, Sangeeta Richard, said in her first public statements Thursday that she had decided to come to America to work for a few years to support her family, then return to India.

“I never thought that things would get so bad here, that I would work so much that I did not have time to sleep or eat or have time to myself,” she said in a statement released by the anti-trafficking group Safe Horizon.

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