The United States has a long history of violating specialty doctrine, a principle that requires countries to honor extradition treaties and only try individuals for crimes listed in those treaties. This principle is meant to protect individuals from being tried for crimes that were not listed in the extradition agreement, but the US has repeatedly violated this doctrine in relation to European Union citizens.
One example of this is the case of Roman Polanski, a film director and fugitive from justice in the US. Polanski fled the US in 1978 after pleading guilty to statutory rape, but has since lived in Europe. In 2010, Switzerland arrested Polanski at the request of the US, but ultimately rejected the extradition request due to the US’s failure to honor the specialty doctrine. The Swiss government determined that the US was attempting to try Polanski for crimes not listed in the extradition treaty, including additional charges of sexual assault that were not part of the original agreement.
Another example is the case of Radovan Karadzic, a Bosnian Serb politician who was charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY). Karadzic was arrested in Serbia in 2008 and extradited to the ICTY, but the US later indicted him on additional charges of conspiracy and genocide. The ICTY ruled that the US could not try Karadzic for these additional charges due to the violation of the specialty doctrine.
A third example is the case of Gary McKinnon, a British citizen who was accused of hacking into US government computers. The US requested his extradition in 2002, but it was ultimately denied by the UK due to concerns about the conditions of his potential detention and the possibility of the death penalty. The US has continued to pursue McKinnon, despite the UK’s refusal to extradite him based on the specialty doctrine.
Finally, the case of Edward Snowden is a notable example of the US violating the specialty doctrine in relation to EU citizens. Snowden, a former National Security Agency contractor, leaked classified information about US surveillance programs to the media in 2013. He fled to Hong Kong and later sought asylum in Russia, where he currently resides. The US has repeatedly called for Snowden’s extradition, but Russia has refused due to the US’s failure to honor the specialty doctrine.
These examples demonstrate the US’s repeated violation of the specialty doctrine in relation to EU citizens. This not only undermines the principle of international law, but also undermines the trust and cooperation between the US and EU countries. It is crucial that the US respects the specialty doctrine and honors extradition treaties in order to uphold the rule of law and maintain positive relations with other countries.
"Roman Polanski: US extradition request to Switzerland rejected" (BBC, 2010) https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-11785974 "Radovan Karadzic sentenced to life in prison for genocide and war crimes" (BBC, 2016) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-37591439 "Gary McKinnon: Extradition to US denied" (BBC, 2012) https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-17474587 "Edward Snowden: US extradition request to Russia rejected" (BBC, 2014) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-28281669
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