US & Canada

Devyani Khobragade: Diplomat row charges dropped in US

Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade (R), accompanied by her father Uttam Khobragade, gives a traditional greeting on her arrival at the domestic airport in Mumbai 14 January 2014 Image copyright AFP
Image caption Devyani Khobragade was welcomed home in January after her arrest sparked a diplomatic row between the US and India

Charges against an Indian diplomat whose arrest strained US-India relations have been dropped by a US judge.

Judge Shira Scheindlin ruled Devyani Khobragade had diplomatic immunity at the time of her indictment on visa fraud and underpaying her housekeeper.

Ms Khobragade, who has since left the US, said through a lawyer she felt the rule of law had prevailed.

India demanded an apology after she was arrested and strip-searched.

Delhi said it was "shocked and appalled" at the manner of her arrest, and ordered a series of diplomatic reprisals against the US, including the withdrawal of a US diplomat from India.

Uttam Khobragade, the diplomat's father, welcomed the ruling by the US judge.

"This is the happiest moment of our lives. I have always maintained that this entire issue was a lie. The work done by our foreign affairs ministry is admirable," Mr Khobragade told BBC Hindi.

US Attorney Preet Bharara said Ms Khobragade was afforded courtesies most Americans would not receive during an arrest and said the search, done by a female agent, was a standard practice.

Ms Khobragade was detained in December on suspicion of visa fraud and making false statements, after being accused of paying her Indian maid below the US minimum wage.

She returned to India in January after she was indicted on criminal charges and India refused to waive her immunity.

Tuesday's ruling does leave open the possibility that prosecutors could bring a new indictment.

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