Extradition cases are legal decisions whose legality is judged according to international treaties and national law. This involves two aspects: the sufficiency of the suspicion and the existence of all formal extradition requirements established by the competent courts.

What does diplomacy have to do with extraditions?

Diplomacy already plays a decisive role in the negotiation and conclusion of extradition agreements. As is well known, extradition agreements are based on reciprocity. Their main purpose is to make prosecution possible across national borders. However, each agreement also represents a compromise, as the judicial systems of the various states sometimes differ significantly. Extradition requests are sometimes transmitted through diplomatic business channels. This means that it is not the public prosecutors’ offices that are in direct contact with each other but that the national authority responsible for foreign policy interests – in Germany the Federal Foreign Office – transmits the extradition documents and is the contact for the requested country.

You can contact our law office anytime if you have a particular issue or legal question concerning German extradition law. Our German extradition lawyers can be contacted by phone and email and provide video conferencing options. For more legal information, please visit our German extradition law homepage.

What is Diplomacy?

In general, diplomacy refers to pursuing a state’s foreign policy interests. It involves negotiations between the plenipotentiaries of different nations, aiming to conclude agreements and cooperate. The aim of diplomacy is always to find a compromise to consider all interests as far as possible.

Since no state exists completely autonomously on its own, diplomacy is imperative. It is not only about criminal law matters, as in the case of extradition agreements, but about cultural exchange, economy and trade, about international peacekeeping.

What Impact does Diplomacy have on Extraditions?

Even if extradition requests are decided on a legal basis, the influence of foreign policy consideration should not be underestimated.

In any international exchange, the different legal systems with their legal practices must always be considered.

For example, extradition proceedings pending in Germany or other EU states are subject to high human rights standards. For example, no extradition may be carried out if the person concerned is threatened with the death penalty in the requesting state.

Such restrictions in international exchange always represent a balancing act between adherence to one’s understanding of the law and consideration for the autonomy of other legal systems and for the sovereignty of the other state.

Especially in cases that attract media attention, the diplomatic relationship with the requesting state plays a decisive role. It is not without reason that wanted persons who want to avoid extradition often stay in states that do not maintain good relations with the requesting state. From there, extradition is significantly less likely than from a state that has strong ties to the requesting state.

Famous Case: Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, a whistleblower wanted in the USA, has been in Russia since 2013. After applying for asylum in several countries, he received a Russian residence permit.

Snowden also requested asylum in Germany, but it was rejected. From a legal point of view, the decisive factor would have been whether the extradition request was intended to punish a political act – in which case extradition should not take place. The German government has not made any official statement on the matter to date. From a diplomatic point of view, such restrained behaviour is supposed to preserve international relations.

Relations between Russia and the USA have been considered tense since 2001. And so it was at least a political statement on the part of Russia to accept a fugitive and grant him asylum (and more recently citizenship).