I was thinking about the idea of universal jurisdiction. It was said that countries can prosecute people who commit war crimes regardless of their nationality.

A famous person says something critical of that government or its supported policies. In this hypothetical case, could that government order him to be sent there?

There was a Hong Kong security law that could apply to everybody on the planet.

That person did not violate any US laws. But they violated the law of a country that doesn't allow free speech or something along those lines.

If they wanted to arrest anybody (not necessarily who I used previously for the example), what means would they have at their disposal? Could they send in secret agents to transport the "criminal"? Sign an extradition agreement?

  • 2
    Are you asking if a foreign government can arrest a US citizen while they are in the US (Wikipedia's page on US extradition law should answer that pretty well), or are you asking if a foreign government can arrest a US citizen while they are in that other country (which seems to be trivially 'yes' since a government can basically do anything if they don't worry about any consequences).
    – Giter
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 2:29
  • You may want to consider the situations of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig. Link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Spavor Link: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Kovrig
    – H2ONaCl
    Commented Sep 2, 2020 at 0:56

1 Answer 1



If you go where that foreign country can get their hands on you, they can do that. Examples include the Israeli capture of Eichmann in Argentina and the US prison camp in Guantanamo.

This statement, which might sound alarming to you, is qualified by a few factors.

  • States usually do not sign extradition treaties which would allow extradition for acts which are not a crime in the extraditing country. There is generally an extradition hearing in court. A Chinese businesswoman went to Canada and was arrested there on an US request. The hearings are ongoing.
  • Most states have signed the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which allows diplomats to visit foreign nationals detained abroad.
  • The Eichmann case is an extreme example. If those Mossad agents had been captured by Argentina, they might have gone to prison themselves.
  • 1
    To add to the Eichmann qualification. Consider the case of Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman who attempted to lawfully enforce a bail warrant under U.S. law by arresting Andrew Luster, a convicted criminal, who had fled to Mexico during his U.S. trial for rape in 2003 and was subsequently convicted in abstentia. The problem was that bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico so Chapman was arrested by the Mexican government who charged Chapman with kidnapping and jailed him. Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 4:43
  • 3
    @RainWillow, Chapman didn't lawfully try to enforce a warrant because US warrants are no good in Mexico. But the case is a good example how international extradition can become a political pawn.
    – o.m.
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 4:52
  • See also: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidnapping_of_Sidney_Jaffe . The kidnappers got their victim into the US, and the courts in Florida then proceeded against the fugitive.
    – DJohnM
    Commented Sep 1, 2020 at 17:17

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