Charges against Indian diplomat who was strip searched dismissed
March 13, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
- NEW: India welcomes the ruling
- Devyani Khobragade was accused of lying on a visa application
- That search sparked outrage in India, with officials there demanding an apology
- Khobragade had diplomatic immunity, so the charges can't stand, judge finds
New York (CNN) -- The Indian diplomat whose arrest sparked a testy exchange between the United States and India won a dismissal of a federal indictment Monday, according to court documents.
Devyani Khobragade was arrested and strip searched by federal agents in New York City in December after federal authorities accused Khobragade of lying on a visa application about how much she paid her housekeeper. She was indicted on January 9 by a federal grand jury on one count of visa fraud and one count of making false statements.
Khobragade then filed a motion to dismiss the charges, claiming she was "cloaked in diplomatic immunity at the time of her arrest," according to the motion.
The court agreed, stating that Khobragade was "appointed a Counselor to the Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations, a position that cloaked her with full diplomatic immunity," according to court documents. She was appointed to that position on January 8, a day before she was indicted.
Tit for tat in India and U.S. relations?
Diplomat has charges dismissed
Anger grows over Indian diplomat's arrest
"Even if Khobragade had no immunity at the time of her arrest and has none now, her acquisition of immunity during the pendency of proceedings mandates dismissal," U.S. District Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote.
"The government may not proceed on an indictment obtained when Khobragade was immune from the jurisdiction of the court," Scheindlin continued.
Khobragade's attorney, Daniel Arshack, said in a statement that Khobragade is pleased that "the rule of law has prevailed."
"We are heartened that the court agreed with our legal analysis and rejected the prosecution's arguments by dismissing the case," he said.
India's external affairs spokesman, Syed Akbaruddin, issued a statement welcoming the ruling.
James Margolin, spokesman for the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, did not rule out the possibility of further charges.
"As the court indicated in its decision, and as Devyani Khobragade has conceded, there is currently no bar to a new indictment against her for her alleged criminal conduct, and we intend to proceed accordingly," he said in a statement.
Khobragade, who left the United States in January, is now working for the Indian Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi.
Her case drew international attention, with Indian officials demanding apologies from Washington, and the United States announcing it would withdraw one official from its embassy in New Delhi.
READ: Was her arrest, strip-search 'barbaric'?
READ: Opinion: Did India overreact to diplomat's arrest?
CNN's Allison Malloy in New York and Harmeet Singh in New Delhi contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0254 GMT (1054 HKT)
A decade on from devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the Red Cross' Matthias Schmale says that the lessons learned have made us safer.
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0024 GMT (0824 HKT)
As soon as word broke that "The Interview" will hit some theaters, celebrations erupted across social media -- including from the stars of the film.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
Did a rogue hacker -- or the U.S. government -- cut the cord for the regime's Internet?
December 24, 2014 -- Updated 0106 GMT (0906 HKT)
Monaco's newborn royals, Princess Gabriella and Crown Prince Jacques Honore Rainier, posed for their first official photos with their parents.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
What's next for the Internet? Acclaimed scientist Sir Tim Berners-Lee shares his insights.
December 23, 2014 -- Updated 0822 GMT (1622 HKT)
The United States and North Korea have long been locked in a bitter cycle of escalating and deescalating tensions. But the current cyber conflict may be especially hard to predict.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 2100 GMT (0500 HKT)
A chilling video shows Boko Haram executing dozens of non-Muslims.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
New planes, new flight tests ... but will we get cheaper airfares?
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it has never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Unicef has warned that more than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 1701 GMT (0101 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.