U.N. receives request to accredit strip-searched Indian envoy

UNITED NATIONS Fri Dec 20, 2013 2:09pm EST

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general, attends the India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser event in Long Island, New York, December 8, 2013. REUTERS/Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general, attends the India Studies Stony Brook University fundraiser event in Long Island, New York, December 8, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Jaffer/SnapsIndia

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UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Friday it has received an official request from India to accredit an Indian diplomat based in New York, who was subjected to a strip search and arrested by U.S. authorities over alleged visa fraud.

"The United Nations has received notification to register Ms Devyani Khobragade as a member of the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations," said U.N. spokesman Farhan Haq. "The United Nations is processing this request as per its standard procedures."

Khobragade's arrest earlier this month has enraged India, which has demanded that all charges be dropped against the diplomat, India's deputy consul general in New York.

New Delhi also demanded the arrest of Khobragade's housekeeper, also an Indian citizen, who had accused her employer of fraud and underpayment of wages - a serious crime in the United States.

The U.S. mission at the United Nations had no immediate response when asked whether the State Department had approved Khobragade's transfer from the Indian consulate to its U.N. mission.

It was not immediately clear if there would be any impact on Khobragade's diplomatic immunity due to the transfer of her accreditation from the Indian consulate in New York, which handles bilateral issues, to the U.N. mission, which oversees India's activities at U.N. headquarters.

In an unusual move, the United States has flown the family of the housekeeper, Sangeeta Richard, out of India. Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has said attempts were made in India to "silence" Richard and compel her to return home.

The State Department has attempted to calm the furor in India, but U.S. prosecutors have shown no signs they would drop their case against Khobragade. Bharara defended the investigation and treatment of Khobragade in a strongly worded statement on Wednesday.

(Reporting by Louis Charbonneau; editing by Christopher Wilson)

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