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UN posting gives Devyani Khobragade temporary immunity, says US

Saturday, 21 December 2013 - 8:14am IST Updated: Saturday, 21 December 2013 - 8:15am IST | Agency: PTI

The transfer of diplomat Devyani Khobragade to India's Permanent Mission at the United Nations would grant her full-diplomatic immunity temporarily and protect her from any arrest in the US, but the visa fraud case against her would go uninterrupted, US official said.

"For anyone, it would apply for the length of time that they have that diplomatic status. But it doesn't retroactively wipe out past discretions," the State Department spokesperson, Jen Psaki said yesterday.

"Receiving diplomatic immunity does not nullify any previously existing criminal charges. Those remain on the books. Nor does obtaining diplomatic immunity protect the diplomat from prosecution indefinitely. It relates to the status of a diplomat's current status for the length of the time of that status," Psaki said.

Diplomatic immunity means, among other things, that a foreign diplomat is not subject to criminal jurisdiction in the United States for the time they are a diplomat, for the time they have that immunity, she said.

She added that,"when immunity is conferred, it does not retroactively take effect at a previous point in time but relates solely to the diplomat's current status." "So, I think some of the confusion here has been if there is a change in status, does that mean that there is a clean slate from past charges. There's not," Paski said.

After her arrest on visa fraud charges in New York last week, Khobragade was transfered this week from the Indian consulate to its Permanent Mission at the UN.

She also said that the US is yet to get an official request "through the proper channels for accreditation" and hinted the full diplomatic immunity would remain till the time she is posted at the UN.

A 1999-batch IFS officer, Khobragade was arrested and then handed over to the US Marshals Service (USMS). She has since been posted to India's Permanent Mission in New York.

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.

She could face a maximum sentence of 10 years for visa fraud and five years for making a false declaration if convicted.


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