“The Tug-Of-War Of International Extradition”

June 25, 2013

The Kojo Nnamdi Show on June 17, 2013 released the following:

Edward Snowden, the man who admits leaking National Security Agency secrets, is publicly weighing his options for seeking asylum since turning up in Hong Kong. Most U.S. allies resist sheltering those who flee U.S. criminal prosecution, but countries like Iceland, Ecuador and France have been notable exceptions. We examine how recent cases are adding new twists to international extradition agreements, and find out how political currents affect those seeking safe haven.

Guests

Douglas McNabb
International Criminal Defense Attorney; McNabb Associates
Stephen Vladeck
Professor of Law and Associate Dean for Scholarship, American University Washington College of Law

Related Links

McNabb Associates
Stephen Vladeck

A Brief History Of Famous & Infamous U.S. Extraditions

The source behind leaked details of a massive government surveillance program, an American named Edward Snowden, has taken refuge in Hong Kong, and many are curious as to his — and the U.S. government’s — next move.

The United States has a varied history of successful extraditions. For example, chess master Bobby Fischer died before he could be extradited from Iceland, while former Guatemalan President Alfonso Portillo was extradited to the U.S. last month on a charge of money laundering.

Extradition is the legal process by which one country surrenders a fugitive to another country where that person is suspected or convicted of a crime. It can be a complicated procedure, often with geopolitical implications for both the receiving and transferring governments.

This map shows where some headline makers have sought asylum. Scroll down to see the information in list form. Green indicates the person was not or has not been extradited; Red is a successful extradition (as of June 17, 2013).

View A Brief History Of U.S. Extraditions in a larger map

Successful Extraditions

Who: John McAfee
Why: The anti-virus software mogul is a “person of interest” in the death of his neighbor.
Sheltered in: Belize and Guatemala
Successfully extradited? Yes.

Who: Eric Justin Toth
Why: The former D.C. elementary school teacher who replaced Osama bin Laden on the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted list is accused of producing child pornography.
Sheltered in: Nicaragua
Successfully extradited? Yes.

Who: Morton Sobell (deceased)
Why: A conspirator of convicted Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Sobell was tried and convicted on espionage charges in 1951.
Sheltered in: Mexico
Successfully extradited? Yes.

Who: Alfonso Portillo
Why: The former president of Guatemala faces charges of laundering $70 million in Guatemalan funds through U.S. banks.
Sheltered in: Guatemala
Successfully extradited? Yes.

Unsuccessful Extraditions

Who: Julian Assange
Why: The WikiLeaks founder is wanted on allegations of sexual misconduct.
Sheltering in: Ecuadorian embassy in London
Successfully extradited? No.

Who: Roman Polanski
Why: The Oscar-winning filmmaker faces sentencing on a charge of having sex with a 13-year-old girl.
Sheltering in: France
Successfully extradited? No.

Who: Kim Dotcom
Why: The founder of file-sharing website Megaupload is wanted by the FBI on piracy charges.
Sheltering in: New Zealand
Successfully extradited? No.

Who: Michael and Linda Mastro
Why: The Seattle real estate magnates were indicted on charges of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering.
Sheltering in: France
Successfully extradited? No.

Who: Edward Snowden
Why: The former NSA contractor disclosed details of classified National Security Agency surveillance programs.
Sheltering in: Hong Kong
Successfully extradited? No.

Who: Assata Shakur a.k.a. Joanne Chesimard
Why: The convicted murderer and prison escapee became the first woman ever to be named to the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list in 2013.
Sheltering in: Cuba
Successfully extradited? No.

Who: Bobby Fischer (deceased)
Why: The chess legend was wanted by U.S. authorities for playing a chess match in Yugoslavia in defiance of international sanctions in 1992.
Sheltered in: Iceland
Successfully extradited? No.

Who: Gary McKinnon
Why: The hacker is accused of breaking into computers at NASA and the Pentagon.
Sheltered in: Great Britain
Successfully extradited? No.”

A copy of the transcript may be found here.

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

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“Analysis: Knox case could pit extradition treaty against U.S. Constitution”

March 27, 2013

Reuters on March 26, 2013 released the following updated story:

“By Terry Baynes

(Reuters) – The possibility that American Amanda Knox could be convicted of murder and extradited to Italy for punishment could force U.S. courts to enter legal territory that is largely uncharted, legal experts said.

Italy’s top court on Tuesday ordered the retrial of Knox, 25, for the 2007 murder of British student Meredith Kercher.

The move potentially pits a U.S. constitutional ban on double jeopardy, or being tried twice for the same offense after an acquittal, against international extradition agreements, experts said.

The issue hinges on whether a lower court decision overturning her conviction amounted to an acquittal, they said.

If Knox is retried after she was acquitted, that would violate her constitutional rights, said Christopher Blakesley, a law professor at the University of Nevada Las Vegas who specializes in international criminal law. On the other hand, the United States entered into an extradition treaty and, in doing so, accepted Italy’s criminal justice system, he added.

“If Knox is found guilty, there’s still a whole lot of room for battle before she would ever be extradited,” Blakesley said.

Knox and her former boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were accused of killing 21-year-old Meredith Kercher during a drug-fuelled sexual encounter in Perugia, Italy. The two were found guilty in 2009 and sentenced to 26 and 25 years in prison respectively.

In 2011, an appeals court, comprised of a panel of judges and lay jurors, overturned the convictions of Knox and Sollecito after forensic experts challenged evidence from the original trial. Knox and Sollecito were released after four years in prison, and Knox returned to her family home near Seattle.

Prosecutors and Kercher family lawyers appealed to Italy’s high court, the Court of Cassation, calling the prior ruling “contradictory and illogical.”

On Tuesday, the Court of Cassation agreed to overturn the appeals court’s acquittals. The high court has not yet provided a full reasoning for its decision, and a date has not yet been set for the new trial, which will be held before a different court of appeals in Florence.

Knox’s Italian lawyer, Carlo Dalla Vedova, said via email that the new trial would likely occur in late 2013 or early 2014. Knox does not intend to return to Italy for the proceeding, he said, and the court of appeals can retry the case in absentia.

The Italian government could ask for extradition once the Italian courts have reached a final decision, Dalla Vedova said. If it does, the U.S. Department of State would then have to decide whether to act on the request. If the State Department chooses to comply, it would then deploy the U.S. Attorney’s Office to a U.S. court to seek Knox’s extradition.

What is unpredictable is how such a case would play out in front of a U.S. judge who would have to weigh the U.S. constitutional protection against double jeopardy with the 1984 bilateral extradition treaty between the United States and Italy. The treaty contains a provision that attempts to protect against double jeopardy, but it is not clear whether that provision would bar extradition in Knox’s case.

The legal question would be whether Knox was acquitted, as U.S. courts would define the term, or whether the case was merely reversed and still open for further appeal, said criminal lawyer and Harvard Law Professor Alan Dershowitz.

“It’s very complicated, and there’s no clear answer. It’s in the range of unpredictable,” Dershowitz said.

Much of the complication stems from the differences between the Italian and U.S. legal systems. In the United States, if a defendant is acquitted, the case cannot be retried.

In Italy, prosecutors and lawyers for interested parties, such as Kercher’s family, can file an appeal. Unlike American courts of appeal, which only consider legal errors in the courts below, Italian courts of appeal, which are comprised of both judges and jurors, can reconsider the facts of a case.

Depending on the Italian high court’s reason for overturning Knox’s acquittal, it is possible that the court of appeals could consider new evidence that’s introduced, said Dalla Vedova. As a result, a defendant can effectively be retried in the course of one case in Italy.

Dalla Vedova said the high court’s decision does not raise a double jeopardy problem because the retrial would not be a new case but rather a continuation of the same case on appeal.

Other defendants who have been acquitted in other countries and then convicted on appeal have attempted to raise the double jeopardy principle to avoid extradition, without much success, said Mary Fan, a law professor at the University of Washington who specializes in cross-border criminal law.

The text of the treaty prevents extradition if the person has already been convicted or acquitted of the same offense by the “requested” country, which would be the United States in Knox’s case because Italy would be requesting extradition from the United States. Because Knox was never prosecuted or acquitted for homicide in the United States, the treaty’s double-jeopardy provision would not prevent Knox’s extradition, said Fan.

While the issue is rare in the United States, several courts have rejected the double jeopardy argument in similar cases. In 2010, a federal court in California found that a man who was acquitted of murder in Mexico and later convicted after prosecutors appealed the acquittal, could not claim double jeopardy to avoid extradition to Mexico. That court cited a 1974 decision from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York, that reached the same conclusion with respect to Canadian law, which also allows the government to appeal an acquittal.

When asked about the potential extradition of Knox at a press briefing on Tuesday, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department said the question was hypothetical and declined to comment.”

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Douglas McNabb – McNabb Associates, P.C.’s
International Extradition Lawyers Videos:

International Extradition – When the FBI Seeks Extradition

International Extradition – Wire Transfer – Email – Telephone Call

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We previously discussed the extradition treaty between the United States and Italy here.

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To find additional global criminal news, please read The Global Criminal Defense Daily.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the U.S. law firm practice and write and/or report extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, INTERPOL Red Notice Removal, International Extradition Defense, OFAC SDN Sanctions Removal, International Criminal Court Defense, and US Seizure of Non-Resident, Foreign-Owned Assets. Because we have experience dealing with INTERPOL, our firm understands the inter-relationship that INTERPOL’s “Red Notice” brings to this equation.

The author of this blog is Douglas C. McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at mcnabb@mcnabbassociates.com or at one of the offices listed above.

————————————————————–

International criminal defense questions, but want to be anonymous?

Free Skype Tel: +1.202.470.3427, OR

Free Skype call:

           Office Locations

Email: