U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara today filed a 26-page motion along with eight attachments/exhibits opposing Devyani’s motion of January 14, 2014 to dismiss her indictment.
Devyani has been charged by U.S. authorities with Visa Fraud and making false statements to the U.S. Embassy in India in order to get an Indian maid Sangeeta Richard to the U.S. as her housekeeper.
Devyani Khobragade was kicked out of the U.S. in January 2014 after the Indian government refused to waive immunity for the diplomat from American criminal jurisdiction.
Devyani Sought Relief
Devyani Khobragade approached the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on January 14, 2014 seeking relief on the following issues:
1. Dismissing the indictment and proceedings
2. Terminating any and all conditions of bail previously imposed by the Court at her initial appearance in this matter on December 12, 2013
3. Exonerating any bail or bond previously posted on Devyani’s behalf to secure her freedom during the pendency of this matter
4. Terminating any arrest warrants presently or previously filed in efforts to secure Devyani’s attendance in any future court proceedings; and such other and further relief as this Court may deem proper and just.
The essence of the argument put forth by Devyani’s attorney was that she is “cloaked in diplomatic immunity and has absolute immunity from any criminal prosecution in the United States.”
Except in the matter of exonerating the bail bond, Bharara opposed Devyani’s other pleas to the court in his motion today.
Bharara flatly rejected Devyani’s basic claim that the U.S. courts have no jurisdiction over her since she has full diplomatic immunity.
Bharara and his legal team wrote in their response to Devyani’s motion to dismiss the indictment:
Having left the United States and returned to India, the defendant currently has no diplomatic or consular status in the United States, and the consular level immunity that she did have at the relevant time does not give her immunity for the charges in this case, crimes arising out of non-official acts (p.1).
U.N. Blue Card is Junk
Bharara’s rejoinder filed today dismisses Devyani’s argument that the U.N. issued Blue Card offers her diplomatic immunity.
According to Bharara, the U.N. issued Blue Card is just a ‘ground pass’ that does not confer or indicate diplomatic immunity (see p.16 of Bharara’s response of January 31, 2014).
Only Blue Cards issued by the U.S. State Department provide diplomatic immunity, Bharara said in the court filing today.
In any event, Bharara contended, Devyani lost all immunity after leaving the U.S. except for acts performed in her official capacity.
Bharara repeated a point previously made by the U.S. State Department on January 8, 2014 regarding Devyani’s legal troubles:
The Government has obtained an arrest warrant for the defendant [Devyani Khobragade], has caused it to be entered into the records of immigration authorities, and has caused the defendant’s name to be placed in Visa and Immigration lookout systems to prevent the routine issuance of a visa in the future. Should the defendant return to the United States, she will then be arrested on the outstanding arrest warrant, presented before the Court, and will be bailed or detained as the case may be (p.21).
By not objecting to Devyani’s petition to exonerate the $250,000 bail bond that she had provided following her arrest on December 12, 2013, Bharara’s office gave the Indian diplomat a consolation prize.
Devyani Khobragade is now working at a desk job in India’s Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi.
What makes the U.S. legal woes difficult for Devyani Khobragade is that her husband and children are American citizens.