Confirming Devyani Khobragade was strip-searched, a US government official has denied “there was any body cavity search”. “From what we have been able to confirm, a strip search did take place. However, no cavity search took place,” Nikki Credic, spokesperson for the US Marshal Service that held Devyani in detention, told The Indian Express over phone.
Devyani has claimed she was subjected to a strip search as well as a cavity search. Credic said, “There is a difference between the two. She may not know the difference. But whatever happened was all as per rules.”
According to the US Marshals website, however, a strip search involves “a complete search of a prisoner’s attire and a visual inspection of the prisoner’s naked body, including body cavities”. According to the procedure, such a search is normally conducted when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the prisoner could be carrying contraband or a weapon or is considered to be “security, escape, and/or suicide risk”.
Touching the skin surface is barred under a strip search. The USMS directive on searches also provides for “digital-cavity search”, which “involves intrusion or entrance into a body cavity”.
Replying to separate questions sent by email, Credic wrote “standard arrestee intake procedures were followed” in the case of Devyani. About Devyani’s claim of being placed in the same cell as drug addicts, Credic replied she was “placed in a cell with other female defendants awaiting court proceedings”.
“Devyani Khobragade was placed in the available and appropriate cell. Absent a special risk or separation order, prisoners are typically placed in general population,” she added.
Asked if the arrest and subsequent treatment was justified, the spokesperson replied, “The US Marshals Service (USMS) was not the arresting agency and takes no position regarding the appropriateness of her arrest. However, the USMS has reviewed the USMS’s detention of arrestee Devyani Khobragade and has determined that the USMS, Southern District of New York, handled Khobragade’s intake and detention in accordance with USMS Policy Directives and Protocols.”