Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade Formally Indicted for Visa Fraud and Making False Statements

Indictment of Indian diplomat expected to escalate tension between India and the U.S.

Devyani Khobragade, India's deputy consul general, during the India Studies Stony Brook University fund raiser event at Long Island, New York.
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Indian Diplomat Devyani Khobragade was indicted Thursday afternoon by a federal grand jury in New York City. The diplomat's arrest - and in particular the strip-search she underwent as a result - last month sparked outrage and protests in India.

The Federal District Court officially charged Khobragade, 39, with visa fraud and making false statements for her maid, whom she was paying below the legal minimum wage. The indictment also accuses Khobragade of attempting to "silence and intimidate the victim and her family and lie to Indian authorities and courts," The New York Times reported.

[READ: Strip-Searching India’s Devyani Khobragade Triggers Rounds of Ugly Reprisals]

A letter sent to a federal judge said that Khobragade left the country Thursday. India had applied to have Khobragade's status as a diplomat upgraded to a G1 visa before her court date, so that she would receive full immunity, The Telegraph reported.

Tension between the two nations is expected to rise as U.S. District Attorney Preet Bharara continues to pursue the indictment against the diplomat. The Indian government has continued to retaliate over what they see as unfair treatment, telling the U.S. to shut down its club for American expatriates and to close down its shops inside the embassy Wednesday, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Though both side claim their relationship is important, little progress is being made between the two governments.

[ALSO: India Demands Apology Over Treatment of Diplomat Devyani Khobragade]

"I'm a little worried it may spin out of control," Lalit Mansingh, a former Indian ambassador to the United States who has also served as India's top diplomat, told Reuters.

But U.S. officials reassured that measures are being taken to mend the relationship between the former allies.

"We are continuing our conversations with the Indian Government ... with the importance of the broad strategic U.S.-India partnership firmly in mind," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told Reuters.

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