Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has sought to postpone proceedings in a visa fraud case that has triggered diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and India, while Pakistan on Monday sided with India and condemned the treatment meted out to the diplomat.
A lawyer for Khobragade, in a letter to a federal magistrate in New York, requested to extend the 30-day deadline by which U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office should file an indictment or commence a preliminary hearing in the case, stating that there is a need to have “meaningful discussions” with the prosecution, Press Trust of India, or PTI, reported.
Khobragade, who was deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested on Dec. 12, and is charged with one count of visa fraud and one count of providing false information about her housekeeper’s wages.
Daniel Arshack, the diplomat's lawyer, seeking to extend the deadline by 30 days to Feb. 12, wrote: "Significant communications have been had between the prosecution and the defense and amongst other government officials and it is our strong view that the pressure of the impending deadline is counterproductive to continued communications."
The lawyer added that an indictment in this case would “polarize the litigants” and the pressure of the deadline is impeding the efforts to resolve the issue and “is interfering with the parties’ ability to continue to have meaningful discussions.”
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Meanwhile, Bharara’s office, in a late night filing on Monday said that the prosecutors had engaged in “hours of discussion in the hope of negotiating a plea” with the Indian diplomat. The prosecutor’s office on Saturday said that the government had “outlined reasonable parameters for a plea that could resolve the case, to which the defendant has not responded,” the New York Times reported.
Khobragade’s arrest and reports that she was subjected to a strip search and cavity search had sparked outrage in India, and led to a diplomatic tussle between the two countries. Khobragade is accused of underpaying Sangeeta Richard, her house maid, and of filing false declarations in her maid’s visa application. Khobragade was released on $250,000 bail.
Pakistan Supports India In Diplomat Row
Pakistan on Monday said that it agrees with India's stance over the U.S government’s treatment of Khobragade. Salman Bashir, Pakistan’s high commissioner in New Delhi told PTI that such treatment should not be meted out to any official of another country.
"In the entire world, there is only one way... there is a long history to this... the respect for Vienna Convention... the Vienna Convention ought to be respected in letter and spirit by everbody," he told PTI, on the sidelines of an event.
Former Pakistan Foreign Secretary Shaharyar M Khan also echoed a similar view and said:
"This kind of treatment with diplomats should not happen. It is written clearly in Vienna convention -- both for diplomatic and consular conduct..under it one cannot arrest any diplomat especially if that diplomat has said that he or she has immunity..Every country has signed it."