Extraterritorial Apprehension by the Federal Bureau of Investigation

Headnotes: 

In the absence of an international law violation, a federal district court will not ordinarily divest itself of jurisdiction in a criminal case where the defendant’s presence has been secured by his forcible abduction from the territorial limits of a foreign asylum state.

A forcible abduction, when coupled with a protest by the asylum state, is a violation of international law; there is, however, some precedent that complicity of asylum state officials in the abduction could be the predicate for a finding of no actual violation of the asylum state’s sovereignty.

Civil liability on the part of the United States or participating government officials resulting from a fugitive’s forcible apprehension in a foreign country will depend on the status of the operation under international law; liability could be predicated on theories of constitutional or common law tort, or on a violation of international law.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has no authority to apprehend and abduct a fugitive residing in a foreign state without the asylum state’s consent.

In the absence of asylum state consent, federal officials may be subject to extradition to the asylum state for kidnapping.

Updated July 9, 2014