Danny Cevallos: Turkish President wants political rival living in Pennsylvania extradited over coup attempt. Can he do that?
Every extradition request becomes a case-by-case analysis, guided by moment's prevailing international political winds, he says
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has blamed last weekend’s failed military coup on Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive 75-year old Turkish imam living in self-imposed exile in Saylorsburg, Pennsylvania.
Erdogan has demanded the United States arrest Gulen or return him to Turkey – that is, extradite him. The Turkish government will submit a formal written request for the cleric’s extradition within days, Erdogan told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
Extradition is the process by which a person charged with or convicted of a crime under the law of one country is found in another country and returned for trial and punishment.
Generally, in the United States, extradition may be granted only pursuant to a treaty. The decision on whether to extradite traditionally involves a three-part analysis: First, the offense must be an “extraditable act.” Second, there must be “double criminality.” Third, the requesting state must comply with a principle called “specialty.”
The United States alone has entered into more than 100 treaties with different countries, each with their own language. Each is also externally influenced by the state of relations with that country, too.
Within all the uncertainty, there are two ways nations decide whether an act is “extraditable.” A treaty – such as that between the United States and Turkey – might specifically identify extraditable acts, such as murder or manslaughter, in a checklist. Alternatively, it might list extraditable offenses very generally by reference to the severity of punishment.