NEW YORK (Reuters) - Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade, whose December 12 arrest and strip-search provoked outrage in her native country and caused a major rift between India and the United States, appeared to be headed home on Thursday at the request of the U.S. State Department. The following is a timeline of events immediately before her departure.
January 8 - India orders the United States to close an embassy club for expatriate Americans in New Delhi.
U.S. mission to United Nations sends Khobragade a letter accrediting her as member of India’s permanent mission and conferring diplomatic immunity as of 5:47 p.m., according to a copy of the letter provided by Khobragade’s lawyer.
Just after 7 p.m., U.S. Magistrate Judge Sarah Netburn in New York denies a request to extend a January 13 court deadline, which Khobragade had sought to continue discussions with prosecutors.
U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz postpones a trip to India, planned for next week, due to escalating tensions.
Jan 9 - India refuses U.S. request to waive immunity. U.S. mission to UN files diplomatic note with Indian mission requesting Khobragade’s immediate departure, according to a copy of the note provided by Khobragade’s lawyer. “Upon her departure a warrant may be issued for her arrest and should she seek to enter the United States she could be arrested,” the note said.
Khobragade is to board an Air India flight from New York to New Delhi, according to court papers. The flight was scheduled to depart at 2:25 p.m. Her lawyer, Daniel Arshack, advises her not to leave before getting a judge’s permission, court records show.
Just after 3:30 p.m., Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York, says Khobragade has been indicted by a grand jury on charges of visa fraud and making false statements. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin, prosecutors also say they have been told Khobragade has been granted diplomatic immunity and has left the country.
At 4:40 p.m., a hearing on the case before Scheindlin begins. Scheindlin gives Khobragade permission to leave the country in accordance with the U.S. government’s request.
Minutes after the hearing starts, Bharara’s office releases a statement saying Khobragade’s lawyer had told prosecutors she was still in the country, giving no further explanation.
Arshack later confirms that Khobragade is planning to leave the United States on Thursday night but doesn’t say on which flight. A search showed that United Airlines operated the only direct flight from the New York area to New Delhi on Thursday night, departing from Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey at 8:40 p.m. A United Airlines spokesman declined to confirm or deny that she had a ticket for the flight. (Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Eric Walsh)