US Big-Footing Extraterritoriality Again

The Irish High Court has rejected the request for an arrest warrant for Edward Snowden. While most aspects of the request were in order — the timing of the alleged crimes, Snowden’s role in them — the US somehow neglected to mention where the alleged crimes had occurred. And that’s a problem because if stealing and leaking outside of Ireland is not an Irish crime, Ireland wouldn’t be able to extradite Snowden if he allegedly stole and leaked documents in outside of the US.

Judge Mac Eochaidh said he was satisfied that the US request met a number of the conditions set out in the relevant act for him to grant the arrest warrant. These included the fact it set out the time when the alleged offences took place, the circumstances in which the offences were committed and the degree of involvement of Mr Snowden in the commission of the alleged offences.

However, the judge observed that the request did not state where the offences actually took place – a condition that must be met by such applications.

“The question of where the offence took place is not a minor detail but is a matter which could have very serious consequences in any further stage that might be reached in an extradition process,” the judge wrote.

“That is because if it is the case that the offences took place outside of the territory of the United States of America, the question will arise as to whether there is extraterritorial effect in respect of the US offences, but more importantly, whether the Irish equivalent offences have an extraterritorial effect or aspect to them.”

He continued: “There would need to be sufficient similarity between the two offences in order for there to be an extradition.”

Presumably, the US will come back and say that Snowden stole documents, at least, in Hawaii, and therefore within the US, even if he didn’t leak them until he got to Hong Kong. Unless, of course, revealing what their contractor-hacker was allowed to do with data would get awkward for the US.

Still, given the way the US loves to big-foot extraterritoriality (including in the Viktor Bout case), you have to wonder whether they knew this would be a problem and tried to just ignore silly things like jurisdiction.

7 replies
  1. Bittersweet says:

    I am beginning to wonder if the US has ever filed out one of these things before. Or perhaps the DOJ doesn’t have any attorneys. Or maybe the paralegals are so busy schmoozing for better jobs that they can not bother to fill in the blanks on the forms. Or all of the interns are sons and daughters of TPTB and have never done their own homework before. Perhaps this is why that can not prosecute banksters, and why legal opinions with as dubious legal thinking as the torture justification memos earn their authors professorships at Berkeley.
    (You forgot to warn me to get some popcorn before reading this!)

  2. C says:

    Still, given the way the US loves to big-foot extraterritoriality (including in the Viktor Bout case), you have to wonder whether they knew this would be a problem and tried to just ignore silly things like jurisdiction.

    I read two things in this. Clearly the U.S. is rushing, even panicking in their efforts to get Snowden, whether they are doing so for operational reasons (e.g. he has something very very dangerous like the Brazil revelations published yesterday) or for emotional ones is unclear. And secondly they are getting sloppy in their work. Clearly whatever junior lawyer drafted this did not give a thought to issues of jurisdiction because I suspect they could have crafted something more viable if they tried. Given the number of countries that have been the target of pressure they may very well be trying to blanket the earth with such requests and are therefore cranking them out en-masse.

    Consider the grounding of President Evo Morales’ plane. Whoever made those calls clearly felt snowded had to be stopped immediately as opposed to say extraditing him from Bolivia which is doable. Moreover they clearly spent no time at all thinking about the consequences of this action. Before it happened countries in latin america were divided on the issue. Now they have something big, telegenic, and emotional to unify about. It is one thing after all to have leaks about spying which may very well have benefitted some countries in latin America. It is quite another thing to have a nation’s president so cavalierly disrespected.

    Even if Snowden had been on the plane, the consequences of just yanking him off would have been huge and likely larger than letting him go since, as Glenn Greenwald has stated, he has already shared his information with others. Thus the decision to ground it betrayed both a lack of interest in other nations and a lack of concern for long-term consequences.

    I wonder how high up the chain the order came from. Did it even come from the white house?

  3. orionATL says:


    and then there is the possibility, because of the very special job he had, that the nsa doesn’t have a clue to what snowden took other than what’s been published.

    wouldn’t that be sweet justice – deliberately failing to keep a strong audit trail comes back to bite nsa in the ass.

  4. Chetnolian says:

    I can’t resist this, bigfooting extraterritoriality included Standard Chartered Bank

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The USG’s global spying is much about economic competition, even with our most honored allies, such as Germany and Brazil. It’s also about anticipatory control of awkward political and social movements. Prevention of violent crimes is a purpose, sure. But it’s probably receded behind feeding the surveillance state beast, just as feeding the military-industrial-congressional complex became more important than fighting credible threats from “communism”.

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