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October 03, 2004


This case seems fairly clear unless you are focusing on America's practice of picking people up in foreign countries.
One of our allies had a warrant for his arrest. We questioned him on another matter and assumingly got enough information from him to release him to our ally.
Our country currently supports the death penalty so we recognize extradition requests from other countries that also have the death penalty.
Yes it wasn't officially extradition if he wasn't on US soil but the circumstances don't seem so radically different.
If the question comes down to "Did we have the legal right to grab him in the first place?" then I think we don't have enough information.
Explicit but clandestine permission may have been given. Otherwise, we could also defend our actions by claiming national defense interests and the after-the-action analysis would probably pass the "global test".

Of course, I'm no lawyer.

I agree that this is a very, very different situation from Arar's case, and sounds more like an extradition than a rendition in many ways, but it's treated as the first "rendition" in articles and I don't know anything about our extradition law or policies.

I don't necessarily think we should never send suspects to Egypt when they're wanted for terrorism and murder there.

Judging by the few cases we know about, rendition started out as something a lot more defensible than what it's become. I am saving commentary on this until the end.

Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture is also relevant:

"No State Party shall expel, return ("refouler") or extradite a person to another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
For the purpose of determining whether there are such grounds, the competent authorities shall take into account all relevant considerations including, where applicable, the existence in the State concerned of a consistent pattern of gross, flagrant or mass violations of human rights."

You could argue that there are "substantial grounds" for believing that any suspect returned to Egypt without some sort of oversight will be tortured, based on their human rights record. However:
1) U.S. law interprets "substantial grounds" as meaning that it is more likely than not that the person will be tortured, so perhaps that's not true in every case and not true in this case.
2) You could argue that they wouldn't bother torturing him because they planned to execute him. I bet they'd want any intelligence he had first, though.

My guess is that there were big problems with his "trial"--Egypt has a tendency towards show trials and trials in absentia are not usually genuine trials, I would guess. I don't know whether our extradition treaty with Egypt, or our extradition agreements in general, take a position on extraditing someone to a place where he will probably be executed without a real trial. (I assume we don't require full compliance with U.S. standards of due process, but there may be some minimum standard or there may not. I've no idea.)

It could also be a bit like the Kahn case. We simply didn't want to put the screws on Egypt over a guy they had already sentenced to death.
The minimum standard is probably flexible depending upon the nature of our alliance and the country's perceived strategic value.
Egypt is our veddy veddy good friend.

Sorry. Like the Kahn case in the sense we valued the relationship with the country more than any differences we could bring up about the individual.

One quick question. If he was wanted for escape as well as his original conviction as well as his conviction in abstentia aren't there multiple reasons he's a fugitive from justice (and multiple convictions and courts) that would qualify his case as a rendition case?

Now if it was Nelson Mandella who escaped...

This is an extremely admirable project of yours, and I look forward to reading all the future entries. Summarizing what's known is an inadaquately glorified practice. Thanks so much.

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