In his confession, one of the individuals arrested in FIFAgate (corruption, bribes that were paid through United States financial institutions) mentioned former President of Argentina Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, now Senator, and other former ministers.

What can the United States do now? Can the United States arrest ministers, senators or presidents from other countries?

  • More background is needed. Why, for example, would the US be able to arrest Argentine government officials in Argentina?
    – cHao
    Nov 15, 2017 at 21:52

1 Answer 1


Defendants in the US would be charged with racketeering, not bribery, since government officials were not bribed. The DoJ indictment against Webb et al. is here: most of the defendants are not citizens of the US, though none are listed as being government officials. DoJ could certainly seek an indictment of ministers, senators or presidents of foreign countries. If said official were in the US on an ordinary passport, they could be arrested. They also might be arrested by e.g. Argentinian policy and extradited to the US, but whether that would be legal depends on the country (some countries don't extradite their own citizens; there would have to be an extradition treaty between that country and the US). It is inconceivable that any nation would hand over a sitting president because of an indictment by the US, and generally unlikely for any government official, but the official could be locally deposed first. But whether a government would do this is basically a political question, not a legal one.

  • so basically US could ask to deport the senator etc. and then the country of that politician would decide if they decide to give him/her to US?
    – Pablo
    Nov 15, 2017 at 21:56
  • Worth noting that foreign policy questions would also come into play. The US wouldn't arrest a sitting senior government official (and certainly not a head of state), even if they're in the US, without first considering whether the US wants to face the diplomatic consequences of doing that. Heads of state are generally considered to be in a diplomatic role even for personal trips, so whether or not US courts would enforce immunity other countries would expect them to be treated as though they have immunity.
    – cpast
    Nov 15, 2017 at 22:24
  • Sovereign immunities recognized by the U.S. should bar a prosecution of a sitting President of a foreign state (but see Manuel Noriega of Panama). en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manuel_Noriega
    – ohwilleke
    Nov 16, 2017 at 0:54
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    Noriega ran the country but was not actually president, in the way that Putin was not president of Russia during 2008–2012.
    – user6726
    Nov 16, 2017 at 1:38
  • @ohwilleke wouldn't the head-of-state defendant have to invoke the immunity explicitly before a judge would dismiss a case?
    – phoog
    Nov 17, 2017 at 4:38

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