US to review Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade's arrest, admits strip search
Under intense pressure from India over its handling of the arrest of senior diplomat Devyani Khobragade, the US has said it is "looking into" the facts of the case, even as US Marshals today admitted that she had been strip searched as part of "standard procedures".
"We understand that this is a sensitive issue for many in India. Accordingly, we are looking into the intake procedures surrounding this arrest to ensure that all appropriate procedures were followed and every opportunity for courtesy was extended," State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said.
Her statement came after India took a series of steps in retaliation to Khobragade's arrest and ill-treatment in New York last week for alleged visa fraud.
The 39-year-old consular officer was subjected to a humiliating strip search, was swabbed for DNA and was kept in a cell with drug addicts after her arrest. She was released on bail the same day.
"While this is a law enforcement issue and will need to be worked through standard procedures and official law enforcement channels, we will continue to work this issue with India in the spirit of partnership and cooperation that marks our broad bilateral relationship," Harf said as the US went into damage control mode following India's tough stand.
A 1999 batch IFS officer, Khobragade, India's Deputy Consul General in New York, was arrested on December 12 by the State Department's diplomatic security bureau, and then handed over to the US Marshals Service (USMS).
Khobragade was taken into custody as she was dropping her daughter to school before being released on a USD 250,000 bond after pleading not guilty in court.
USMS confirmed that Khobragade was subjected to a "strip search", the same as other arrestees. "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 said.
She insisted that standard intake procedures were followed, saying, "While in USMS custody, standard arrestee intake procedures were followed."