Five US diplomats, with tacit support of the US state department, hatched the plan to evacuate domestic help Sangeeta Richard’s family out of India just two days before the arrest and strip-search of her employer and Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York on December 12, say intelligence officials.
Immediately after news of the illegal evacuation of Indian citizens appeared in the media on December 19, intelligence operatives mounted efforts to prevent further damage by US officials who carried out covert operations under the guise of diplomatic privileges. According to sources, intelligence efforts unmasked a group of conspirators connected to 5, Aurangzeb Lane in Lutyens’ Delhi which is notified as an official residence for US diplomats. They include Timothy Haley and his wife Joyce Haley, Uzra Zeya in Washington, and Wayne and Alicia May in Delhi.
Indian intelligence officials gathered that Sangeeta Richard’s in-laws worked for Geoffrey R Pyatt, who served in India almost a decade ago. Their last employer was Wayne May who was deported last week in retaliation against the expulsion of Khobragade. Officials said Pyatt, who is currently US ambassador to Ukraine, was the first US diplomat who hired Sangeeta Richard’s in-laws at 5, Aurangzeb Lane when he was posted as Minister Counsellor for Political Affairs from 2002 to 2007.
The in-laws were later employed by Uzra Zeya, Political Counsellor at US Embassy in New Delhi. Zeya, who had earlier worked as a deputy executive secretary to former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, served in Delhi between 2009 and 2011. She too stayed at 5, Aurangzeb Lane.
After Zeya left India, Richard’s in-laws were employed by Timothy Haley, Counsellor, Regional Security Office, who occupied the same address. Haley came to India sometime in August 2011 after completing a stint in Mexico. According to sources, he recently left India to temporarily work at the US state department in Washington. He was replaced by Wayne May. “However, Haley’s wife Joyce, who works in consular section of the US embassy in Delhi, stayed back and reportedly facilitated the T-visa for Sangeeta’s husband Philip Richard, daughter Jennifer and son Jatin. This was allegedly done on the direction of Haley and Zeya in Washington,” a source claimed.
According to officials, after her deputation to the US embassy in Delhi, Zeya served as Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary William Burns. She also worked as Executive Secretary, US State Department’s Accountability Review Board probing the September 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi.
However, a US committee on foreign affairs in a meeting in May 2013 had raised suspicion over Zeya’s role in the Benghazi probe after she allegedly shielded Burns and Hillary Clinton from being summoned by the ARB for questioning about the attack. But, the incident is said to have given her career a major boost and she was appointed acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor on March 2013.
“Zeya allegedly played a major role in converting the entire low wages controversy into a human trafficking issue. Later, Zeya’s department gave trafficking victim status to Sangeeta Richard and also expedited T-visa application for her family,” intelligence officials said.
The money—Rs 1 lakh—for the AI 101 flight tickets for the Richards were paid by Alicia May, wife of expelled US diplomat Wayne May. Alicia, who was working as community liaison officer at the US embassy, New Delhi had given her office phone number for passenger contact.
The Sunday Standard