Is it true that the U.S can ask extradition of a non U.S person who has committed a crime against a U.S citizen in a country other than the U.S? I mean, I don't condone crimes but how can it possibly be that a person who has never set food in the U.S and committed a crime outside the U.S be extradited to the U.S and be judged by U.S law in the first place?

EDIT: I've edited the question properly.

EDIT 2: the sentence part "in a country other than the U.S" relates to the country the crime is hypothetically committed in, not an other country extradition is going to be delivered to. I know that the overall statement might be ambiguous.

  • 1
    Any country can ask. Doesn't mean they're going to get the suspect.
    – MSalters
    Oct 10, 2019 at 11:12
  • Ok, but don't you find weird that a country can demand extradition of a person who is not its own citizen and has nothing to do with that country and has not committed the crime in that very country in the first place? I mean, ok, the criminal is to be tried according to the law of the country they commit the crime in, but this kind of law is just too much over reaching. I may even understand, to a certain extent, extraterritorial jurisdisction over citizens, but not over non-citizen who have literally NOTHING to do with the country requesting the extradition
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 11:18
  • Just say a person has a heavy dispute with a U.S tourist for whatever reason, and they harm the tourist to the extent of committing a crime. Is it logical for you that they may be tried all the way to a U.S court? It seems illogical honestly. I do not decide laws but, it seems out of intellect this thing.
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 11:21
  • see my answer for more details, but in this hypothetical case it's left unanswered whether the act is also a crime in the country where it happened. If it is, the country would likely try the case itself instead of extraditing. If it isn't a crime in the other country, there's no ground for extradition. Either case, there's no extradition.
    – MSalters
    Oct 10, 2019 at 11:33
  • Ok now I've understood. Thank you.
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 12:42

3 Answers 3


All countries (and some sub-national jurisdictions) have extraterritorial jurisdiction

The U.S. Criminal Code asserts the following items to fall within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States, much of which is extraterritorial in nature:

  1. The high seas and any other waters within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States and out of the jurisdiction of any particular state, including any vessels owned by US persons that are travelling on them

  2. Any US vessel travelling on the Great Lakes, connecting waters or the Saint Lawrence River (where that river forms part of the Canada–United States border)

  3. Any lands reserved or acquired for the use of the United States, and under the exclusive or concurrent jurisdiction thereof

  4. Any island claimed under the Guano Islands Act

  5. Any US aircraft flying over waters in the same manner as US vessels

  6. Any US spacecraft when in flight

  7. Any place outside the jurisdiction of any nation with respect to an offense by or against a national of the United States

  8. Any foreign vessel during a voyage having a scheduled departure from or arrival in the United States with respect to an offense committed by or against a national of the United States

  9. Offenses committed by or against a national of the United States in diplomatic missions, consulates, military and other missions, together with related residences, outside the US

  10. International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act

The US is actually pretty narrow in its assertion of extraterritorial jurisdiction and the Supreme Court has held that there is a presumption against extraterritoriality. So US laws have to explicitly assert a claim of extraterritoriality.

Contrast this with, say, France where the Code pénal asserts general jurisdiction over crimes by, or against, the country's citizens, no matter where they may have occurred.

Crimes perpetrated from foreign jurisdictions

Notwithstanding, a crime can be perpetrated in a country without the perpetrator ever having been in that country.

Hacking of computer systems is an obvious example. However, almost all criminal codes include a crime similar to "Attempted X" or "Conspiracy to commit X" which clearly don't require a physical presence. Terrorist attacks are often planned in third-party countries by a group, only a small number of whom actually go the country to commit the actual attack but all of them have committed a crime under that county's jurisdiction.


Any country (A) may request extradition from any other country (B) where A asserts that it has a case to bring against the individual. No country can demand extradition.

B will decide whether to grant the request subject to its own law on the matter and the provisions of any extradition treaty that may be in place between A and B.

Dual Criminality

A crime committed in country A may engage the jurisdiction country B. If so, country A gets first crack at prosecution. Country A might decide not to prosecute, might prosecute and fail or might prosecute and succeed. Notwithstanding the outcome country B can decide to prosecute as well. Usually if the defendant has been prosecuted by country A (win or lose), country B will not prosecute.

A specific example

An Australian engages in sex with a French-American child in the US embassy in Rome, Italy.

Italy has jurisdiction because the crime was committed in Italy. The US has jurisdiction because the offence was committed against a US national in a US diplomatic mission. France has jurisdiction because the victim was French. Australia has jurisdiction because sex crimes against minors by Australians are prosecutable in Australia.

The perpetrator flees to the UK (with whom all four countries have extradition treaties) where they are arrested - the UK government (courts and foreign minister) will decide if and to whom the perpetrator will be extradited (probably Italy). After they are prosecuted there (and serve any sentence) any of the other three may request extradition. And so on.

  • Well I'm not asking about things such as international crime, but I'm asking about crimes that may occur bewteen civilians and normal people
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 9:22
  • Now let's just say, that a U.S national goes in vacation in, let's say, Italy, and let's say that they happen to be killed by a non U.S citizen (whether Italian or not, and I don't know if ther are sub-scenarios to this as well, because there are gypsies who are not held accountable for things) in Italy, and the criminal has never, in their entire life, set foot in the U.S nor does he speak even a word of English. Is there a chance of that criminal to be extradited in the U.S instead of being tried in Italy?
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 9:26
  • Because if that is the case, then the concept of law is weird, and I'll be perceiving law as weird from now on.
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 9:33
  • Also, as far as my common sense perception and notion of law is concerned, a person who commits a crime in a country should be tried in that country, not from a jurisdiction they have literally nothing to do with (except if they are a citizen, because I could understand extraterrirorial jurisdiction over citizens, not non citizens)
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 9:43
  • @abdul: The concept of law doesn't exist, certainly not across international borders. But on a case-by-case basis, it's turns out that the concepts of law are similar enough. Italy and the USA? The chief issue with your example is that Italy cannot agree to an unconditional extradition request to the USA because of the death penalty for murder in the USA.
    – MSalters
    Oct 10, 2019 at 11:49

It appears to me that you're confusing jurisdiction with exclusive jurisdiction.

Let's start with one of the generally accepted fundamentals of extradition: extradition is only possible for acts that are crimes in both jurisdictions. The USA accepts this principle, as can be seen from the extradition treaties to which it's a party. And for obvious reasons, both the requesting and the extraditing country will judge their own half.

So if an act is indeed a crime in both countries, it usually means that both countries could try that act in their national court systems. Both would have jurisdiction; neither has exclusive jurisdiction. At this point, the two countries need to agree which of the two should try the case. And in this decision, the extraditing country has a veto because there is almost never an automatic extradition (European Arrest Warrants being the chief exception AFAICT).

Exclusive jurisdiction is more commonly found within a single country, where certain courts may have exclusive jurisdiction over special matters. E.g. a military court might have exclusive jurisdiction over soldiers, and other courts will then unconditionally reject these cases.


It depends on which country is asking, but if the US has an extradition treaty with that country, then yes. For example the US has an extradition treaty with Albania

which states that we must mutually

deliver up to justice any person who may be charged with, or may have been convicted of, any of the crimes or offenses specified in Article II

with a list of crimes following (murder, rape, piracy, forgery, perjury, slavery, bribery and so on).

when found in the other parties jurisdiction. If a Greek murders an American in Albania and is arrested in the US, Albania can demand extradition and the US is obligated to deliver the person (as long as the rules of the treaty are followed, e.g. there has to be evidence; it can't be a political crime. Citizenship of the accused is not relevant under US law, although Norwegian law does prohibit extradition of Norwegian citizens, and many countries will not extradite if execution is a possibility.

However, the US cannot extradite a person who is in Russia (or some other country): instead, Russia could have to extradite a person in that country.

  • Sorry I phrased the question wrongly, by extradite I mean, in this case, demand extradition, so I was meaning passive extradition. I was asking whether such a person can be extradited into the US, even if they have NO connection to the US whatsoever.
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 0:38
  • By the way, in your edit of my title, the locution "in an other country other that the U.S" is unclear whether it refers at the place the crime occurs in or the country extradiction is allegedly going to be delivered to.
    – abdul
    Oct 10, 2019 at 1:06

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