Diplomat "broke down" during strip search

December 18, 2013 02:57 am | Updated November 16, 2021 09:02 pm IST - Washington

The U.S. Marshals Service (USMS), the detainment authority in the case of the senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade (39) arrested in New York last Thursday, confirmed that the Deputy Consul General had been strip-searched and directed media to their prisoner operations protocols for details.

Ms. Khobragade, meanwhile, said that during her arrest and detention, she “broke down many times” as she was subjected to the “indignities of repeated handcuffing, stripping and cavity searches,” in an email that an Indian official with direct knowledge of the case confirmed as authentic to the Associated Press.

The diplomat also said that she was further subject to swabbing, possibly for DNA sampling, and held in a cell “with common criminals and drug addicts” despite “incessant assertions” of diplomatic immunity.

The protocols that the USMS pointed out to The Hindu confirmed that Ms. Khobragade was subject to “a thorough visual examination… from the top of the head to the bottom of the feet”, and deputies were required to “look inside the prisoner's ear canals, nostrils, and mouth, checking under the tongue, roof of the mouth, and between the lips and gums,” effectively a cavity search.

Under the USMS guidelines, being a pre-trial detainee or in line with the security level of the prison where she was held, she was “fully restrained”, which meant “handcuffs, waist chains, and leg irons (shackles)”, were used on her.

In terms of whether she was accorded any different treatment to the general prisoner population, the USMS said in an emailed statement, that she was “was subject to the same search procedures as other USMS arrestees in accordance with USMS Policy Directives and Protocols”.

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