Tit for tat: India expels US diplomat

    By IANS,

    New Delhi : India Friday expelled an American diplomat involved in the case of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade after she was told to fly home following her indictment by a US grand jury.

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    Official sources said the US embassy was “asked to withdraw forthwith a US diplomat of similar rank as Khobragade”.

    “We have reason to believe that the officer was closely involved in the processes related to the (Khobragade case) and the subsequent unilateral action by the US side,” a source said.

    The US embassy could not be immediately reached for comments. The name of the expelled American diplomat was not known.

    Khobragade, arrested and strip-searched for alleged visa fraud last month, was asked to leave the US after being formally indicted by a US grand jury Thursday.

    External affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin earlier said that Khobragade had been given a G1 visa with full diplomatic immunity, and was on her way back to India.

    Khobragade’s handcuffing and strip-search Dec 12 for alleged visa fraud and for allegedly underpaying her child’s nanny caused a major row between New Delhi and Washington.

    At the time of her arrest, Devyani, 39, was India’s deputy consul general in New York.

    Prosecutors said that after Khobragade was granted immunity, US officials told her to leave the country.

    In a statement after the grand jury hearing, her lawyer Daniel Arshack said Khobragade “is pleased to be returning to her country.

    “Her head is held high. She knows she has done no wrong and she looks forward to assuring that the truth is known”.

    Her father Uttam Khobragade thanked the Indian government for his daughter’s return.

    “It is only because of the entire Indian government’s effort, my daughter is returning to India with full diplomatic immunity,” he said.

    The external affairs ministry said Khobragade was accorded Jan 8 the privileges and immunities of a diplomatic envoy.

    “At the same time, the US government requested the government of India to waive (her) immunity.

    “On Jan 9, India declined to do so and transferred Khobragade to the ministry of external affairs in New Delhi.”

    Khobragade reiterated her innocence.

    “She also affirmed her determination to ensure that the episode would not leave a lasting impact on her family, in particular, her children, who are still in the US,” an official statement said.