US deputy spokesperson revealed in a press briefing that the Indian Embassy in New York was aware about the arrest of Indian Deputy Counsel General Devyani Khobragade, on charges of fraudulent visa document and misleading statements, in September.
"The State Department advised the Embassy of the Republic of India in writing in September of allegations of abuse made by an Indian national against the deputy consul general of India in New York," said Marie Harf, US state department deputy spokesperson, during a briefing while discussing the procedure US authorities went through when US human trafficking deparment came up with the case against Khobragade.
The United States also announced that its Department of State has been reviewing the arrest of Khobragade on charges of visa fraud.
"We understand this is a very sensitive issue and we're continuing to review exactly what transpired. And I would point out again that the State Department wasn't the only entity involved here, so I would point folks to the U.S. Marshals, who obviously play a role in this as well," Harf said
When asked whether the Indian diplomat was strip-searched after being arrested in public, Harf said, "That's the US Marshals who do that.. I can't speak for them what may or may not have happened. And that's why we're trying to gather more of the facts." US Marshals office confirmed to Times Now that Khobragade was strip-searched when she was arrested.
The diplomatic row between the two countries escalated on Friday when reports revealed that Khobragade, 39-year-old IFS, was strip-searched and kept in a cell among drug addicts.
"As for the type of search, I can only confirm that she was subject to the same search procedures as other USMS arrestees held within the general prisoner population in the Southern District of New York, which in this case was a strip search," USMS spokesperson Nikki Credic-Barrett told PTI.
Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and NDA prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi turned down the meeting with a US delegation in protest. The central government asked US consular officers residing in India to return their ID cards.
In another sharp response, bollards placed outside the US Embassy in New Delhi, which apparently 'obstructed traffic' were removed by the Delhi police on Tuesday.
A policeman stands next to a bulldozer removing the security barriers in front of the US embassy in New Delhi December 17
"The safety and security of our diplomats and consular officers in the field is a top priority. We'll continue to work with India to ensure that all of our diplomats and consular officers are being afforded full rights and protections. Also, of course, safety and security of our facilities as well is something we take very seriously, and we'll keep working with the Indians on that.. Certainly, we have called on them to uphold all of their obligations under the Vienna Convention, everything that they are obligated to do and according our diplomats rights and all of the things that go under the Vienna Convention," Harf said.
She added that her country is in 'constant contact' with the US diplomats in India.
To which, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin responded saying, "We are committed to implementing Vienna Convention, will implement them fully and ask them to be implemented fully. India is committed to ensuring security of all diplomats within confines of Indian law. There has been no change in security situation as regards any diplomats in India including US diplomats."
Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid's interview on Tuesday
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