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Indian Diplomat In New York Facing Fraud Charges

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) - An Indian diplomat in New York City is facing serious charges after being accused of paying her full-time babysitter just a few dollars an hour and lying on a visa application.

But Devyani Khobragade's lawyer said he's confident the consular official will be cleared.

Khobragade was charged Thursday with making false statements and visa fraud.

"Horrible. It's disgusting. It's just inhuman to do that," a woman outside the Indian embassy on Manhattan's east side told CBS 2's Andrea Grymes.

Federal prosecutors say the babysitter from India worked for Khobragade in New York for about 7 months.

According to the criminal complaint, the babysitter worked more tha 40 hours a week and was paid $3.31 an hour.

"I have every expectation that she will be completely vindicated," defense attorney Daniel Arshack told Grymes.

He said he's not sure why charges were brought against the married mother of two.

"I don't know. I think there must be some political motivation, but I don't know," said Arshack.

Arshack said his client is entitled to diplomatic immunity.

The defendant is the deputy consul general for political, economic, commercial and women's affairs at the Indian Consulate General.

Her lawyer told a magistrate judge his client would challenge the arrest on grounds of diplomatic immunity. She was freed on $250,000 bail.

Khobragade was also ordered to surrender all travel documents.

India, meantime, is objecting to the allegations.

In a statement, India's External Affairs Ministry said the treatment of the diplomat was unacceptable. It says it will take up the matter "forcefully'' through its embassy in Washington.

The U.S. Attorney's office said the counts against Khobragade carry a maximum combined 15 years in prison.

She's due back in court in January.

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