Has there ever been a case of an attempt to extradite a US citizen to any of the EU states? I don't necessarily mean a procedural crime (like lying to the police or lying on some official form). Tax evasion would probably be just as demonstrative. Has there ever been a case of the US agreeing to extradite anyone for a non-violent crime after they were accused, or convicted, in any of the countries that comprise the EU?

  • "Has there ever been a case of the US agreeing to extradite anyone for a non-violent crime after they were accused, or convicted, in any of the countries that comprise the EU?" Extradition involves turning over a criminal defendant to face a trial in the receiving country, not a post-conviction turnover of a defendant. No one is extradited after they are convicted.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 4, 2020 at 19:33
  • @ohwilleke are you saying that no one is extradited after they are convicted as a matter of law or are you saying it to point out that there is some lack of understanding (on my part) of something that you believe to be obvious?
    – grovkin
    Sep 4, 2020 at 19:37
  • The definition of "extradition" is the delivery of a person to a country where they will be tried for a crime of which they have not been convicted. I do not believe that a turnover of an escaped convicted felon is called an extradition.
    – ohwilleke
    Sep 4, 2020 at 19:43
  • 1
    @ohwilleke: In researching this question, I came across the case of Ivo Knotek. He was convicted of attempted extortion in the Czech Republic, but somehow was able to return to the US while his case was under appeal. The conviction was eventually upheld, and the Czech authorities asked the US to arrest and hand him over to serve his sentence. It does appear that this was considered an extradition. Sep 4, 2020 at 19:54
  • Knotek's case is probably an answer to the question, except that I couldn't find confirmation that he was actually sent back to the Czech Republic. The last information I found on the case was the Ninth Circuit denying his appeal, but I don't know if the extradition actually took place, or if there are further proceedings or some other resolution. Knotek's case was of particular interest because he is a US citizen. Sep 4, 2020 at 19:57

1 Answer 1


The U.S. routinely extradites criminal defendants located in the United States to the E.U.

Each year since 1990, OIA has opened between 670 to 950 extradition cases based on requests from U.S. prosecutors and foreign governments. During the same time period, OIA closed between 380 to 960 cases per year. OIA's case closure rate has not kept pace with the number of new cases, resulting in a pending caseload 2 that has increased over 100 percent since 1990. As of November 2000, OIA had 3,636 extradition cases pending - approximately 1,100 cases where fugitives wanted by foreign governments were believed to be in the United States and approximately 2,500 cases where fugitives wanted by the United States were believed to be in foreign countries. . . .

According to OIA records, about 25 staff attorneys and 11 paralegals are assigned to four country teams that are responsible for processing requests from both U.S. prosecutors and foreign governments. The country teams process cases that fall within the following geographic areas:

Team I (United Kingdom/Africa) - responsible for Ireland, Africa, and the United Kingdom (UK) and its dependencies, and English-speaking Caribbean nations.

At the time of our review, Team I had 386 open extradition cases, 107 of which involve the UK.

Team II (European) - responsible for Europe (except the UK) and the Caribbean islands controlled or formerly controlled by European countries other than the UK.

At the time of our review, Team II had 609 open extradition cases. Unlike the other country teams, no one country dominates Team II's extradition cases. The top four countries are: Switzerland with 86 cases, Federal Republic of Germany with 72 cases, the Netherlands with 66 cases, and France with 60 cases.

Team III (Latin American) - responsible for Mexico, Central and South America, and Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations.

At the time of our review, Team III had 1,693 open extradition cases. More than half of these cases (849) involved Mexico.

Team IV (Asia/Canada) - responsible for Asia (which includes the Middle East), Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific islands.

At the time of our review, Team IV had 942 open extradition cases. Slightly less than half of these cases (456) involved Canada.

From a 2002 report of the U.S. government.

The process is summarized here. Each extradition treaty typically contains a list or description of covered cases and a list of categories of excluded cases.

Extraditable offenses. All treaties include provisions defining which crimes are extraditable. Treaties agreed upon prior to the 1970s typically include a negotiated list of specific extraditable offenses (such as specific crimes like "murder," "manslaughter," and "larceny") and only allow extradition for the crimes that are listed in the treaty. Modern treaties have largely done away with these lists, however, and use a "dual criminality" approach instead. This more flexible approach examines the conduct that serves as the subject of the request.

Exceptions to Extradition. Every extradition treaty contains exceptions to the parties' extradition obligations. The most common exceptions include:

  • Political and Military Offenses. These provisions are aimed at crimes such as treason, sedition, and other offenses that could be used to target political opponents or otherwise cause the requested country to become entangled in the domestic politics of the requesting country. To clarify and limit the contours of the "political offense" exception, most US bilateral treaties now carve out violent conduct such as bombings and kidnappings from that exception, even if the subject alleges that the conduct in question was politically motivated.

  • Nationality. Many countries refuse to extradite their own nationals, and extradition treaties may include exceptions for this policy. The US government has long taken the view that nationality should not be a bar to extradition, since the requesting country in an extradition case should have the right to pursue criminal charges against persons who violate its laws regardless of nationality. The US government accordingly extradites its nationals and seeks to limit nationality-based denials in new US extradition treaties.

  • Prior Prosecution. These "non bis in idem" provisions of most extradition treaties protect subjects from transnational "double jeopardy." They bar extradition where the person has already been convicted or acquitted for the same conduct that is the basis of the extradition request.

  • Capital offenses. Although the US tries to limit the application of this exception, many US treaties have provisions permitting the requested country to demand assurances that the death penalty will not be sought or imposed. Some countries that do not impose the death penalty domestically will not agree to extradite to the United States in a case where the death penalty is a possible punishment, or at least reserve the right to deny extradition if the crime could carry a death penalty.

  • Extraterritoriality. Some extradition treaties limit their scope to crimes committed within the territorial jurisdiction of the requesting country. The United States has pushed to eliminate these restrictions in recent years.

Basically, dual criminality limits extradition to offenses that would be felonies in both the sending and receiving countries.

As another source explains:

Extradition is generally limited to crimes identified in the treaty. Early treaties often recite a list of the specific extraditable crimes. Jay's Treaty mentions only murder and forgery; the inventory in the 1852 treaty with Prussia included eight others;27 and the 1974 treaty between the United States and Denmark identified several dozen extradition offenses:

  1. Murder; voluntary manslaughter; assault with intent to commit murder. 2. Aggravated injury or assault; injuring with intent to cause grievous bodily harm. 3. Unlawful throwing or application of any corrosive or injurious substances upon the person of another. 4. Rape; indecent assault; sodomy accompanied by use of force or threat; sexual intercourse and other unlawful sexual relations with or upon children under the age specified by the laws of both the requesting and the requested States. 5. Unlawful abortion. 6. Procuration; inciting or assisting a person under 21 years of age or at the time ignorant of the purpose in order that such person shall carry on sexual immorality as a profession abroad or shall be used for such immoral purpose; promoting of sexual immorality by acting as an intermediary repeatedly or for the purpose of gain; profiting from the activities of any person carrying on sexual immorality as a profession. 7. Kidnapping; child stealing; abduction; false imprisonment. 8. Robbery; assault with intent to rob. 9. Burglary. 10. Larceny. 11. Embezzlement. 12. Obtaining property, money or valuable securities: by false pretenses or by threat or force, by defrauding any governmental body, the public or any person by deceit, falsehood, use of the mails or other means of communication in connection with schemes intended to deceive or defraud, or by any other fraudulent means. 13. Bribery, including soliciting, offering and accepting. 14. Extortion. 15. Receiving or transporting any money, valuable securities or other property knowing the same to have been unlawfully obtained. 16. Fraud by a bailee, banker, agent, factor, trustee, executor, administrator or by a director or officer of any company. 17. An offense against the laws relating to counterfeiting or forgery. 18. False statements made before a court or to a government agency or official, including under United States law perjury and subornation of perjury. 19. Arson. 20. An offense against any law relating to the protection of the life or health of persons from: a shortage of drinking water; poisoned, contaminated, unsafe or unwholesome drinking water, substance or products. 21. Any act done with intent to endanger the safety of any person traveling upon a railway, or in any aircraft or vessel or bus or other means of transportation, or any act which impairs the safe operation of such means of transportation. 22. Piracy; mutiny or revolt on board an aircraft against the authority of the commander of such aircraft; any seizure or exercise of control, by force or violence or threat of force or violence, of an aircraft. 23. An offense against the laws relating to damage to property. 24. a. Offenses against the laws relating to importation, exportation or transit of goods, articles, or merchandise. b. Offenses relating to willful evasion of taxes and duties. c. Offenses against the laws relating to international transfers of funds. 25. An offense relating to the: a. spreading of false intelligence likely to affect the price of commodities, valuable securities or any other similar interests; or b. making of incorrect or misleading statements concerning the economic conditions of such commercial undertakings as joint-stock companies, corporations, co-operative societies or similar undertakings through channels of public communications, in reports, in statements of accounts or in declarations to the general meeting or any proper official of a company, in notifications to, or registration with, any commission, agency or officer having supervisory or regulatory authority over corporations, joint-stock companies, other forms of commercial undertakings or in any invitation to the establishment of those commercial undertakings or to the subscription of shares. 28. Unlawful abuse of official authority which results in grievous bodily injury or deprivation of the life, liberty or property of any person, [or] attempts to commit, conspiracy to commit, or participation in, any of the offenses mentioned in this Article, Art. 3, 25 U.S.T. 1293 (1974).28

While many existing U.S. extradition treaties continue to list specific extraditable offenses, the more recent ones feature a dual criminality approach, and simply make all felonies extraditable (subject to other limitations found elsewhere in their various provisions). . . .

Want of Dual Criminality

Dual criminality addresses the reluctance to extradite a fugitive for conduct that the host nation considers innocent. Dual criminality exists when the parties to an extradition treaty each recognize a particular form of misconduct as a punishable offense. Historically, extradition treaties have handled dual criminality in one of three ways: (1) they list extraditable offenses and do not otherwise speak to the issue; (2) they list extraditable offenses and contain a separate provision requiring dual criminality; or (3) they identify as extraditable offenses those offenses condemned by the laws of both nations. Today, "[u]nder most international agreements ... [a] person sought for prosecution or for enforcement of a sentence will not be extradited ... (c) if the offense with which he is charged or of which he has been convicted is not punishable as a serious crime in both the requesting and requested state.... "45

Although there is a split of authority over whether dual criminality resides in all extradition treaties that do not deny its application,46 the point is largely academic since it is a common feature of all American extradition treaties.47 Subject to varying interpretations, the United States favors the view that treaties should be construed to honor an extradition request if possible. Thus, dual criminality does not "require that the name by which the crime is described in the two countries shall be same; nor that the scope of the liability shall be coextensive, or, in other respects, the same in the two countries. It is enough if the particular act charged is criminal in both jurisdictions."48 When a foreign country seeks to extradite a fugitive from the United States, dual criminality may be satisfied by reference to either federal or state law.49

U.S. treaty partners do not always construe dual criminality requirements as broadly. In the past, some have been unable to find equivalents for attempt, conspiracy, and crimes with prominent federal jurisdictional elements (e.g., offenses under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations [RICO] and Continuing Criminal Enterprise [CCE] statutes).50 Many modern extradition treaties contain provisions addressing the problem of jurisdictional elements51 and/or making extraditable an attempt or conspiracy to commit an extraditable offense.52 Some include special provisions for tax and customs offenses as well.53

Extradition requests are routinely granted for non-violent felony cases as required by the applicable extradition treaties. Statistics on the precise nature of the offenses processes is harder to find. Eventually, pretty much every commonly committed offense identified in an extradition treaty as eligible for extradition will be used as a basis for an extradition.

Procedural crimes like perjury, and felony tax fraud, would usually satisfy the dual criminality requirement.

Another doctrine may be creating confusion. Almost no country conducts trials arising from procedural and tax offenses arising in another country's legal or tax system in its own courts, or punishes violations of those offenses in its own criminal justice system.

But this isn't a barrier to extraditing a defendant in such an offense to the country whose legal process or tax system was abused to face trial in the courts of the harmed country for the harmed country to punish, if the procedural or tax offense would have been a serious crime if committed against the sending country.

  • I was actually thinking about GDPR violations when I asked the question. There is a number of questions on the site about what would happen to someone who is outside of the EU and who violates GDPR requirements. The proponents of GDPR on this site seem to give stern warnings that this may result in a conviction in a European court and a possible subsequent extradition. Since it's never happened, it's a guess. But I am trying to see how far fetched (or not) this is.
    – grovkin
    Sep 4, 2020 at 20:46
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    @grovkin The GDPR would need provide a criminal penalty and that crime would also have to be a crime in the US for an extradition to occur. What could potentially happen is that a civil judgement could be imposed by a court in the EU, which could in theory be enforced in the US. It wouldn't necessarily need to be against the law in the US, but it may still be difficult to get a US court to enforce the judgement given the much different public policies regarding privacy.
    – Ross Ridge
    Sep 4, 2020 at 21:38

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