I am reading this press release of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California.

The attorney states that:

Mason Sheppard, aka “Chaewon,” 19, of Bognor Regis, in the United Kingdom, was charged in a criminal complaint in the Northern District of California with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and the intentional access of a protected computer.

So the defendant appears to be located in the UK and is being charged in the US. As far as I know, UK people are bound by laws approved by the UK Parliament, and US people are bound by laws approved by the US Congress.

  1. How would the guy be held responsible under a law that the legislature of the country in which he resides did not approve?

  2. What if he is convicted in a US court, the US sends a formal request to UK to have him sent in the US to go to US jail, and the UK government answers "That's nice. We will not send him over"? What would happen then? Would the US police fly to the UK and take him? Will the US nuke the UK?

  3. What if the US asks for him to be punished in the UK, and the UK answers "Sure. We will fine him 1$"?

  • 3
    Here is the extradition treaty between the US and UK, for reference. (Click PDF for the full text.) Mar 11, 2021 at 0:36
  • 3
    [Here](washingtonpost.com/world/2019/10/10/…} is a counterexample. Person cannot be charged under US vehicular manslaughter laws because they're written to only apply to crashes in the US. Mar 11, 2021 at 1:36
  • think about mailing a bomb to another country. Do you think the law in that country wouldn't apply?
    – Tiger Guy
    Mar 11, 2021 at 7:25
  • 4
    "The US will nuke UK?" A little hyperbolic don't you think? Mar 11, 2021 at 15:43
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    @AndreaLazzarotto That’s a civil matter though with very different restrictions and rules of proceeding than criminal prosecution. If somebody owes you money – whether from a debt or a liability claim –, they do so regardless of where either party resides. If you go to court to settle the matter, courts will often claim jurisdiction if at least one party is “located” within its jurisdiction. (Some jurisdictions have very broad interpretations of business location. For instance in Germany, any court takes cases regarding any internet service directed at an audience located in its district.) Mar 11, 2021 at 20:23

2 Answers 2


The US has jurisdiction because the systems that the accused allegedly attacked are in the US. To use an example with older technology, you can't escape criminal liability for defrauding someone in one country simply because you did so through the mail or by telephone from another country.

The UK and the US have an extradition treaty. The UK might refuse to extradite the accused; in that case the US would most likely complain loudly. If too many extradition requests are refused on one side, the other side might start limiting cooperation in any of several areas.

  • It would also be a factor if that person ever wanted to travel to the US. If they tried to enter the country, there's a good chance federal marshals would waiting to arrest them as soon as they stepped off the plane/boat.
    – Seth R
    Mar 11, 2021 at 17:38
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    @SethR Or, for that matter, if they ever wanted to travel to another country that also has an extradition treaty with the U.S. Which consists of nearly the entirety of 4 continents and significant portions of the others. (Not including Antarctica, but that's not likely to help you much either since little of it is populated and much of what is populated is populated and/or supplied by either the U.S. or a U.S. extradition country. Also, it's cold.)
    – reirab
    Mar 12, 2021 at 5:19
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    The way I think of this in my head is that "Although the perpetrator may be in the UK, the crime occurred in the US"
    – Richiban
    Mar 12, 2021 at 9:31
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    @Richiban that is indeed a useful way to think about it, though it is probably more accurate to say that the crime occurred partly in the US and partly in the UK, or alternatively that it occurred in both jurisdictions. It's conceivable that for some transnational crimes both jurisdictions would want to prosecute. In such cases, the jurisdiction that holds the accused would be able to decide who gets to do so.
    – phoog
    Mar 12, 2021 at 13:19
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    It's worthwhile to note there have been two high-profile cases of British men hacking into high-security systems of US government agencies: Gary McKinnon (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_McKinnon) and Lauri Love (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lauri_Love). In the former case, the Prime Minister herself blocked extradition, while in the latter case an appeal to the High Court resulted in extradition being blocked.
    – Noldorin
    Mar 12, 2021 at 22:34

You do not have to reside in the US to be subject to US law (likewise UK law), nor do you even have to ever be physically present. The alleged crimes, 18 USC 1030(a)(2)(C), 1343, 1349, 1956(h), only require involvement of US computers (which is the case) and not the presence of the accused in the US. At the level of international law, this is covered by Art 3 of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, which both the US and the UK are parties to. This covers "transnational crimes", and is applicable to cybercrimes.

  • There is of course always the problem of enforcing such laws, but most Western countries have extradition treaties and other cooperations in place to ensure this. If the suspect were in, I THINK Russia, Iran or so, then they could be found guilty by US courts, but would have nothing to fear as long as they stayed in these jurisdictions
    – Hobbamok
    Mar 11, 2021 at 9:27
  • According to its article 3(1), the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime is applicable only if the crime "involves an organized criminal group," which is defined by article 2(a) as "a structured group of three or more persons...acting in concert with the aim of committing one or more serious crimes or offences established in accordance with this Convention, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit." It's not clear that the crimes alleged here are in fact within the scope of the convention.
    – phoog
    Mar 11, 2021 at 13:38
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    More importantly, the prosecution does not depend on the convention (though someone reading this answer might draw the opposite conclusion). That is, even if the accused were acting alone and therefore definitely outside the scope of the convention, the prosecution would be tenable under other laws and treaties.
    – phoog
    Mar 11, 2021 at 13:41
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    @Hobbamok: An example of Russians being indicted under similar laws happened recently, as part of the Mueller investigation. Several Russian citizens and Russian companies were charged under U.S. Law with various computer crimes, even though there was no reasonable expectation that the US would be able to bring them to trial any time soon. Mar 11, 2021 at 23:48
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    @Hobbamok 'Nothing' is probably something of an exaggeration. Lots of Russians have had various (and often significant) financial sanctions placed on them by the U.S. without ever having set foot in the U.S. justice system, for example. U.S. charges could also severely limit international travel, due to the extradition treaties you mentioned. Julian Assange is an extreme example of how the latter can end up working out, Snowden another.
    – reirab
    Mar 12, 2021 at 21:40

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