Devyani Khobragade indicted by US grand jury, asked to leave country

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Washington, Jan 10 (IANS) Indian diplomat Devyanni Khobragade, whose arrest in the US sparked protests from India, has been formally indicted by a US grand jury.

However, prosecutors said that Khobragade, 39, had also been granted immunity and that US officials had asked her to leave the country, BBC reported Friday.

She was arrested Dec 12 in New York for alleged visa fraud and underpaying her nanny Sangeeta Richard. India sought a US apology for her "humiliation", which included a strip-search.

On Thursday, prosecutors initially said Khobragade had already left but were later told by her lawyer that she was still in the US.

A spokesman for the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York said in a statement that they "had been advised by the State Department that, pursuant to their request, Devyani Khobragade was to have left the United States this afternoon".

However, later in the day "Ms Khobragade's lawyer advised that she has not, in fact, departed the US".

Daniel Arshack, Khobragade's lawyer, later confirmed this, saying that she was "at home with her children".

The handcuffing and strip-search of Khobragade, India's deputy consul general in New York, caused widespread outrage in India.

She has denied the charges of visa fraud and underpaying her nanny.

India has demanded the US take back all charges against Khobragade and offer an unconditional apology. Delhi ordered a series of diplomatic reprisal measures against the US, and relations between the two countries have been strained over the case.

India has already withdrawn the airport passes given to US diplomats in India and the special diplomatic identity cards issued to them as part of reciprocal measures after the arrest of Khobragade.