What do you think would have happened if Bin Laden sought asylum in Norway?

A comment in another thread* mad me wonder. Imagine in an alternative history fairly shortly after 9/11 Bin Laden turns up in Norway somewhere, seeking asylum on the basis he faces cruel and unusual punishment in the United States.

Norway couldn’t extradite him to the US unless it had an assurance he would not have faced the death penalty. I also EXPECT that it couldn’t extradite him to the US unless it could be sure that he wouldn’t face being holed in a SuperMax, and possibly it wouldn’t even have extradited if it thought life without parole was an option although I am not so sure on that last supposition. Would the US have given said assurances? If it hadn’t, would Norwegian flags be burning all over the US when Norway refuses to give him up? Is some sort of unique and/or shady deal reached?

I just can’t imagine either country backing down here.

*This one:

I think Norway would punt by finding a way to deny him asylum and deporting him back to where he came from, at which point he’d be in the open and immediately captured or killed.

That would be against his human rights under European Law; they can’t do that.

Given that Norway is not part of the EU, I don’t think that Norway would be strictly bound to accept that particular piece of legislation.

That said, I think that the most likely outcome would be that Norway would directly deny asylum. “Common criminals” are not generally considered to be entitled to asylum, and I think that there would be quite a few pointers at that time that would indicate that Bin Laden could be considered to be a “common criminal”. (*)

Also, I am sure that there would be a horde of Norwegian lawyers ready to show that denying asylum to Bin Laden would be the proper thing to do.

(*) If you were thinking of putting Roman Polansky as a counterexample, he obtained French nationality and French law forbids the extradition of its own citizens out of France. This situation was not related to asylum law. He got in trouble because Switzerland (where that rule does not apply, and where he had some properties that he used to visit from time to time), which had never before bothered him when he went in, decided to arrest him when he went there the last time.

It’s their membership of the Council of Europe that matters, as that makes them bound to European Court of Human Rights rulings.

Or at least that’s my understanding, I am no expert or even amateur at the law. But I am pretty sure no European state (except maybe Belarus) will send someone to their death. Even if they aren’t given asylum.

Oh, I have the feeling that in the case of Bin Laden they would make an exception. That is what government lawyers are for: to find legal justification for whatever acts their government takes. And I am pretty sure that they would be able to find it.

If they’d granted him asylum, a few months later he’d have been found dead of natural causes*.

A gunshot wound in the head naturally causes someone to die. Or possibly some exotic poison. Either way, he would shuffle off this mortal coil. And the assailant, if any, would never be caught or even identified. And Tom Clancy would write another book with a plot “ripped from today’s headlines”.

Or a vial of Auntie Methabel’s Natural Causes. (Shoutout to **Girl Genius **fans).

I think it kind of depends on how soon after 9/11 we’re talking. I would think some sort of handover deal would have been possible before the US started playing fast and loose with international law (i.e Iraq, Gitmo, waterboarding) as the War on Terror geared up. Afterwards, I would imagine that some sort of international tribunal would be arranged, with or without US participation, but I think there would be some serious credibility issues with the US making assurances of how they would treat him.

It’s worth pointing out that he’s responsible for the deaths of people from many, many countries other than the United States — surely one or another of those would have a legitimate claim to extradition and methods of punishment that are in line with European human rights law. (After all, many of the countries in question are European!)

The USA would agree to not apply the death penalty.

To Osama bin Laden? Under the Bush Administration? In his first term?

I think not.

They’d kill him slowly by feeding him nothing but lutefisk (maybe not all that slowly).

My harebrained guess would be that Norway would simply deport him. Bin Laden clearly would not be suitable for any kind of asylum claim. Deportation might be more feasible for Norway than extradition. You can bet that wherever UBL would go, he would arrive to meet a few Americans that would be very helpful in allowing him to make his unplanned connecting flight.

Let me rephrase my statement. The USA would not get the fellow unless it agreed not to have him face the death penalty.

They’d trick him into taking a reindeer hunting trip with Dick Cheney disguised as a Saami convert to Islam.

I think they’d take the path of least resistance and try him for terrorism under Norway’s laws. He gets 20 years and then they’d declare him nuts and hold him in custody if he hadn’t died yet. That’s what they are going to do with Breivik.

I don’t see it being good for Norway if they wound up housing Bin Laden. The whole “human rights” idea worked with Brevik because he’s their problem. But it wouldn’t pass muster with Bin Laden.

Under Bush, I could even see the U.S. saying they wouldn’t pursue capital punishment, only for Bin Laden to accidentally wind up dead at some point. He’ll have hanged himself in his cell or something. Or have had a bomb on him that went off–suicide bombers. And everyone who posited a conspiracy would be laughed about.

We’d find out there was an actual conspiracy, but that would be decades later, and everyone would just ignore it and move on, either because the U.S. has become better, or it is no longer relevant on the world stage.

I think he’s still a Saudi citizen, so presumably they’d deport him there, where the Saudi’s would either hand him over to the US or execute him themselves.

Norwegian courts might have jurisdiction over people who committed crimes against Norwegian citizens. In which case, he could have been tried there to begin with (assuming at least one Norwegian has been killed on 9/11).