South Asia

Expelled US diplomat criticised for comments

US State Department distances itself from online remarks made by diplomat expelled amid row over Indian envoy's arrest.

Last updated: 15 Jan 2014 06:13
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Devyani Khobragade returned to India after she was indicted in a US court [Reuters]

The Indian media is abuzz with allegations that a US diplomat expelled by New Delhi in retaliation to Indian envoy Devyani Khobragade's expulsion from the US, made offensive remarks about India on social media.

Indian newspapers have reproduced "disparaging" remarks that Wayne May and his wife Alicia Muller May reportedly posted on their Facebook pages.

Comments by May and wife include familiar grouses against “Third World countries” including health hazards, traffic problems, foul air, not having clean water, poor roads, lack of foot paths and Hindu gods.

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One comment by May read, "My pet dog Paco looks bigger and in better health" than their gardener. May commented his dog got "more protein in his diet than the gardener did".

May’s wife who worked as a community liaison officer in Delhi had a discussion on her FaceBook page over a post that non-vegetarians commit more violence.

"It's the vegetarians that are doing the raping, not the meat eaters - this place is just so bizarre," Alicia May wrote. She added: "Applies only to Indians, not westerners!"

In another post, she put up the picture of a cow in India and called it "stupid cow". When someone's comment observed, "You just insulted their god...," May responded with a tart, "Not the first time, not the last".

May was commiserated by a friend on a FaceBook post that read: "Oh Wayne is this what you’ve become after living in Corinth NY starting off to end up a Third world country photographer needing to whore himself out to the highest bidder".

He responded to that with a "something like that" comment.

US distances itself from comments

On Monday, at the daily news conference in Washington, Marie Harf, the US State Department Deputy Spokesperson said, "Those comments absolutely do not reflect US government policy, nor were they made on any official US government social media account."

While the US State Department official refused to reveal the identity of the diplomat who was asked to leave Delhi, Indian newspapers and social media have identified them as Wayne May and his wife Alicia Muller May.

India media reports say that Wayne, as head of the security team at the US embassy in Delhi, was involved in arranging for the "evacuation" of three members of the domestic help Sangeetha Richard's family from India to the US two days before Khobragade was arrested in New York.

Khobragade's arrest during which she was allegedly strip-searched triggered an unprecedented spat between Washington and New Delhi. She returned to India last week after securing full immunity on being transferred to the Indian mission in the United Nations. 

Khobragade has been accused of paying Sangeetha Richard less than what the US minimum wage rule stipulates, besides fudging her visa application. The case against her is pending before a US court.


Al Jazeera
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