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Impasse Over Plea Deal In Arrest Of Indian Diplomat

Indian deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade (credit: CBS 2)

Indian deputy consul general Devyani Khobragade (credit: CBS 2)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Federal prosecutors and attorneys for a diplomat whose arrest triggered an outcry in India have found themselves at odds over a possible plea deal.

A letter filed Tuesday by attorneys for Devyani Khobragade accused federal prosecutors in Manhattan of trying to pressure her into pleading guilty by next week. They renewed a request for an extension of the Jan. 13 deadline for an indictment “to eliminate pressure on the situation and permit efforts which are ongoing resolve this matter.”

The letter came in response to a filing on Monday by prosecutors saying they had “participated in hours of discussions in the hope of negotiating a plea that could be entered in court before Jan. 13.” It said there had been no response to the government’s latest offer.

Prosecutors’ filing violated an agreement not to discuss the negotiations publicly, the defense letter said. “We can only think that the violation was a distressingly calculated one,” it said.

There was no immediate response from the court.

Khobragade, 39, India’s deputy consul general in New York, has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. Khobragade allegedly lied on a visa application for her nanny. Feds said she promised to pay the woman $4,500 a month but was actually paying her the equivalent of $3.31 an hour.

Her arrest last month sparked outrage in India after revelations that she was strip-searched and thrown in a cell with other criminal defendants before being released on $250,000 bail.

In a recent email Khobragade criticized the manner in which her arrest was executed.

“I broke down many times as the indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping, and cavity searches — swabbing — in a holdup with common criminals and drug addicts were all being imposed upon me despite my incessant assertions of immunity,” Khobragade said last month.

But U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was quick to defend the actions taken in Khboaragade’s arrest.

“She was not, as has been incorrectly reported, arrested in front of her children. The agents arrested her in the most discreet way possible, and unlike most defendants, she was not then handcuffed or restrained. In fact, the arresting officers did not even seize her phone as they normally would have. Instead, they offered her the opportunity to make numerous calls to arrange personal matters and contact whomever she needed, including allowing her to arrange for child care. This lasted approximately two hours. Because it was cold outside, the agents let her make those calls from their car and even brought her coffee and offered to get her food,” Bharara said.

Khobragade is based on the Upper East Side and has focused on women’s issues.

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