Nightly News   |  December 22, 2013

Search of Indian diplomat causes controversy

An Indian diplomat is stripped searched and faces charges of visa fraud. NBC’s Pete Williams reports.

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>>> between the u.s. and india created by the arrest of an indian diplomat here in new york on charges of visa fraud . india is charging that the, asking that the charges against her be dropped while secretary of state john kerry has gotten involved to try to soothe the situation over. more from our justice correspondent, pete williams .

>> reporter: demonstrators in india can't get you have over the treatment of a diplomat in new york arrested a week ago and strip searched . an action considered a cultural taboo and an affront to the entire country.

>> american authorities have behaved atrociously with an indian diplomat. and obviously, america has to make good for its actions.

>> reporter: u.s. prosecutors stay diplomat lied to the state department to get a visa for a woman from india to work as a baby sitter and housekeeper by claiming she would pay roughly 9.75 an hour for 40 hours a week. but prosecutors say she made the woman sign a contract for agreeing to work for $3.31 an hour and the woman's lawyer said she actually got about $1.30 an hour working more than 100 hours a week.

>> they said the diplomat was strip searched as is everyone taken into federal custody to make sure no one smuggles in anything dangerous. her lawyer said it should not be a federal case.

>>> we don't believe she was treated any worse than any person but she was certainly not treated with the respect and decorum that a person of her diplomatic stature should have been accorded.

>> reporter: in an unusual statement about the case, the u.s. attorney in new york who is from india himself, says miss kobe gadi deserves no sympathy. why is there so much outrage over how she was treated but precious little outrage over the abuse of her employee, the victim. secretary of state john kerry has expressed regret for what happened to the diplomat. the u.s. says employees of foreign consulates do not have full diplomatic immunity and can be arrested. but some legal experts question how she was treated.

>> there appears to be no question that the government acted legally but there is a very big distinction between acting within the color of your authority and doing what as a matter of foreign relations and common good sense is wise.

>> reporter: as the u.s. works to ease the tension, india insist that's its diplomat be sent home. pete williams , nbc news, washington.