Legal Question in International Law in Florida

My co-writer, Joe Moore, and I are currently working on our fifth thriller and have come up with a scenario that requires some expert advice. In our story we have an American who is wanted for the attempted murder of a U.S. federal agent (during a smuggling sting in Iraq where federal OSI agents were present, though not in charge of the sting--that was the Iraqi responsibility) amongst other things. He is now in the Philippines where there is no extradition treaty with the U.S. What options does the U.S. have to bring him to justice? Or are there any?

Any help you can give us would be greatly appreciated and we would be more than happy to include you in the acknowledgments.

Thanks in advance,

Lynn Sholes and Joe Moore

Asked on 6/19/10, 8:59 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Brent Rose The Orsini & Rose Law Firm

You may want to double-check you research regarding whether the U.S. and the Philippines have an extradition treaty, especially with respect to crimes committed extra-territorially (committed outside either state). If I'm not mistaken, a treaty was ratified between the two states in 1996.

Nevertheless, the history of the treaty has been shaky, and the Philippines may still work for your plot, as the treaty seems to have been honored more often in the breach than the observance.

But let's assume that the U.S. is having difficulty bringing your perpetrator (I don't know what else to call him) back to the States for trial for whatever legal reason. For example, there is a nasty defense attorney in the Philippines fighting extradition, or maybe the paperwork is hung up, or the Philippines thinks mistakenly that the death penalty is involved, etc.

There are two methods of transferring prisoners between two states ("rendition"): 1) through legal process of the courts, or "extradition," or 2) outside the legal process of the courts ("extraordinary rendition.")

If rendition can't be accomplished through extradition--for one of the reasons I listed or for a thousand other reasons that are easy to imagine--rendition can be made extraordinarily, which is essentially through kidnapping. An officer of the state, usually the FBI or the CIA in the case of the U.S., travels to the foreign state and captures the prisoner, bringing him or her back to the requesting state. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that this procedure is legal and doesn't violate any U.S. Constitutional rights.

Of course, the public perception is that extraordinary rendition is illegal. That's because the Bush administration abused the practice and tortured captured prisoners. But extraordinary rendition was used many times before Bush took office.

That's my first thought, not knowing much about your plot. I'm better at brainstorming than at answering questions directly, and I'm sure I could come up with better ideas if I knew a little more. Feel free to contact me if you have further questions or want to suggest more about your scenario.

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Answered on 6/19/10, 4:31 pm

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