In a letter to a federal magistrate judge in New York,
Khobragade's lawyer requested an extension of the time by which the
U.S. government must file an indictment or commence a preliminary
The lawyer, Daniel Arshack, confirmed he filed the letter in court
but would not comment about a possible resolution of the case.
Khobragade, who was deputy consul-general in New York, was arrested
on December 12 and charged with one count of visa fraud and one
count of making false statements about how much she paid her
The case was adjourned until January 13 by which time the government
must commence a preliminary hearing or file an indictment.
Arshack asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn to extend the
deadline by 30 days to February 12.
"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," Arshack wrote.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan whose office is
handling the case, however responded saying the plea discussions can
continue following the indictment in the case.
"The government is not seeking an extension of the deadline for
indictment and therefore there is no motion for the court to decide.
At any rate, as the court knows, the timing under which the
government seeks an indictment is in the discretion of the
government, and the defendant cannot alter that," Bharara wrote in a
letter to a federal magistrate judge in New York.
Bharara added that as recently as January 5, the government outlined
"reasonable parameters" for a plea that could resolve the case, to
which the defendant has not responded.
Khobragade's arrest enraged India, which is demanding that all
charges be dropped against her. On the day of her arrest, she was
strip-searched. The arresting authority, the U.S. Marshals Service,
said the strip search was a routine procedure imposed on any new
arrestee at the federal courthouse.
Khobragade was released on $250,000 bail.
In the aftermath of her arrest, India asked to transfer Khobragade
to the United Nations.
[to top of second column]
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said on Monday that
India's application to transfer Khobragade's accreditation to the
Indian mission at the United Nations, which was made before
Christmas, was still under review.
"We've received the request for change in accreditation, but the
process is ongoing and no official decision has been made yet to do
that. So there's no change in her status as of this point," she told
a regular news briefing.
Indian media have said the request to transfer Khobragade to the
United Nations was aimed at ending the stand-off with the United
States in the hopes that her new diplomatic status could allow New
Delhi to bring her home without the prosecution proceeding.
According to U.N. guidelines on diplomatic privileges and
immunities, documents certifying diplomatic immunity, if approved,
are usually issued by the U.S. Mission to the United Nations within
two weeks of the initial request.
A State Department official said there was no set time period for
the process, and noted that the request had been filed just ahead of
a period of government holidays.
Harf said the United States hoped to see the case resolved as soon
as possible in the interest of the bilateral relationship between
India and the United States, which has been strained by the case.
"We don't want this to define our relationship going forward and
don't think that it will," Harf said. "If you look throughout the
region, if you look at Afghanistan, if you look at energy issues,
economic issues, we have a whole host of things we work together on,
and those are very important and shouldn't be derailed by this
incident. ... (T)he relationship with India is incredibly important,
it's vital, and that's what we're focused on."
(Additional reporting by Sakthi Prasad
in Bangalore; editing by
Leslie Adler and Eric Walsh)
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