Court documents claim Indian diplomat's housekeeper kept in 'slavery-like' conditions

The case of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade has taken a new turn after court documents filed by the husband of her housekeeper claim that the servant was kept in "slavery-like conditions."

Philip Richard, the husband of housekeeper Sangeeta Richard, alleged in documents filed in India and first reported on by Outlook India that consular official Khobragade worked his wife from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. every day, despite the fact that, as Richard claims, "the contract stipulated that Sunday would be an off-day."

Khobragade was arrested earlier this month outside her children's school in Manhattan on charges of lying on a visa application about how much she paid Sangeeta Richard. Prosecutors say the maid received $3 per hour for her work.

The case has turned into an international incident, as Indian officials claim the consular official's treatment, which included a strip search, was heavy-handed. India's foreign minister demanded last week that the U.S. drop federal charges against Khobragade, which U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara refused to do.

On Wednesday Bharara took the unusual step of releasing a length statement defending Khobragade's treatment while under arrest and detailing the charges before her. At one point, the statement asked, "One wonders why there is so much outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian national accused of perpetrating these acts, but precious little outrage about the alleged treatment of the Indian victim and her spouse?"

That treatment, according to the documents, included attempts by Uttar Khobragade, Devyani's father and a former civil servant, to hush up the complaints by sending the police to harass members of Richard's family.

Richard's daughter, Jennifer, also wrote to U.S. officials to complain that Khobragade had refused to allow the housekeeper to return to India, saying "My mother used to sound unhappy whenever she talked to us on phone.She asked Devyani to send her back to India but Devyani refused her request."

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