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Before Khobragade, US Let French Dip Serman Flee Before Indictment, & Return

By Matthew Russell Lee, Exclusive

UNITED NATIONS, January 9 -- In the run up to today's US indictment of Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade for underpaying a domestic worker, US State Department spokespeople repeatedly insisted that the US has the utmost respect for India, that the relationship is extremely important to the US and they want to "move on."

  Back in 2011, though, Inner City Press uncovered and exclusively reported on the case of a French diplomat, Romain Serman, who after assaulting a New York Police Department officer while allegedly buying cocaine was allowed to leave the country before any indictment. See story here, arrest report here.

  While it may be debatable if assaulting a police officer when being arrested for cocaine purchase is more or less serious than allegedly underpaying a domestic worker, the disparity in US treatment between the French and Indian and French diplomat cannot be missed.

  The Indian diplomat was arrested, booked and stripped searched -- and today indicted. The French diplomat Romain Serman was allowed to quietly leave the country without any indictment.

  Usually the agreement upon being allowed to leave the US in this way is that the person will not come back to the US. But, amazingly, Romain Serman came back to the US -- as France's consul in San Francisco, still.

  When Inner City Press reported this, the then spokesperson of the French mission demanded that Inner City Press remove the story from the Internet.

  As with stories on Sri Lanka that the United Nations Correspondents Association demanded be taken down from the Internet or Inner City Press face expulsion, Inner City Press refused. The French spokesperson called this a "hostile act" (Inner City Press countered that it was an act of journalism) and things proceeded from there.

  This becomes relevant now in light of reports not only of the disparity in indictment of Khobragade versus none for the French Serman, but that the US State Department might as an accommodation allow Khobragade to leave the country, as Serman was allowed to do WITHOUT indictment.

 Would Khobragade then be allowed to return -- as a consul -- as Serman was? Watch this site.


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