AMERICA has told Britain that it can “kidnap” British citizens if they are wanted for crimes in the United States.
A senior lawyer for the American government has told the Court of Appeal in London that kidnapping foreign citizens is permissible under American law because the US Supreme Court has sanctioned it.
The admission will alarm the British business community after the case of the so-called NatWest Three, bankers who were extradited to America on fraud charges. More than a dozen other British executives, including senior managers at British Airways and BAE Systems, are under investigation by the US authorities and could face criminal charges in America.
Until now it was commonly assumed that US law permitted kidnapping only in the “extraordinary rendition” of terrorist suspects.
The American government has for the first time made it clear in a British court that the law applies to anyone, British or otherwise, suspected of a crime by Washington.
To any law, there is always a special case. I think most people would regard North Korea’s occasional kidnapping of Japanese citizens as the act of an uncivilized country, but that most people would applaud Israel’s capture of Eichmann in Argentina. But an actual US law that makes it permissible to kidnap anyone suspected of a crime raises seems to me raises an obvious question… what happens when a foreign country decides they have the right to kidnap American citizens in the US? And what does this to our moral authority in cases like those of North Korea kidnapping Japanese citizens? After all, it isn’t “illegal” according to the only law that matters in North Korea.