Would the US extradite the assassin of a hostile leader?

Let’s say that an American citizen gets it into his mind to assassinate the leader of a hostile country, and that he does so entirely of his own volition and without the knowledge or help of the US government. Let’s further assume that the assassination is witnessed and documented (say, it was video-taped), so to outward appearances it seems probable, but not absolutely certain, that the American is the assassin. Finally, assume that the assassin manages to escape back to the US, where he denies any involvement in the killing. Up for debate is how likely it is the US government is to respond to the inevitable calls from the aggrieved country for extradition of the suspect.

To make things more concrete, let’s instantiate the country and time period:
[li]Say an American manages to kill Fidel Castro tomorrow and abscond to America. Would Bush extradite the assassin? Cuba isn’t much of a military threat to America, so the US could probably protect the assassin with impunity. But would it?[/li][li]Say an American manages to kill Kim Jong-Il tomorrow and abscond to America. (An impressive feat, considering the North Korean leader’s notorious reclusiveness and the highly militarized nature of the country.) Would Bush extradite the assassin? North Korea isn’t much of a military threat to America either, but it would probably threaten to bomb South Korea. Would America hand over a suspect to protect its South Korean ally?[/li][li]Say an American kills Yuri Andropov, head of the USSR, in 1983, and escapes to America. Would Reagan be willing to give up a suspect to a country he just denounced as an “Evil Empire”?[/li][/ol]
Finally, would the scenario be any different if the American assassin was actually acting on the orders of the government rather than acting alone?

I doubt that the government would hand over a non-American assassin to a hostile government, much less an America.

Depending on if he was an employee or a dupe, I’d expect him to either be given free plastic surgery and a new identity, or that he’d be disappeared and dropped into the ocean. Either way there’s no way they’d let a foreign government get their hands on him.

Well, there’s a legal answer, and a real world answer:

Legal answer: Extradition is based on treaties that we have with the country in question. We have no formal diplomatic relationship with Cuba or North Korea, so we wouldn’t extradite to them. Russia/the Soviet Union - we do, so we would.

Real world answer: Anybody who did this to Castro or Kim would be tried and jailed/executed in the US. If he did it to Andropov or any other leader of a nation with whom we have diplomatic ties, he would be handed over. As much as he might be a hero to certain people, the government can’t have private citizens conducting foreign policy. Also, every other nation would suspect that he was working for one of the American intelligence agencies (and we are assuming, per the OP, that he was not). If he is not dealt with swiftly there would be major repercussions from everywhere. It wouldn’t be worth it NOT to either execute him or extradite him.

When have we shown concern about other nations opinions or desires, or repercussions from them ?

And wasn’t there a recent story about a terrorist wanted in Cuba we’ve refused to hand over ?

Oh, please.

You can argue all you want about whether the US cares about what other countries think about it, but you are talking about the government. The OP asked about a private citizen acting on his own accord. The government will not allow its citizens to conduct foreign policy on their own. Any private citizen who assassinated the leader of another country would be dead meat.

The one thing that any government will not and cannot allow is to lose its monopoly on the use of force. Once that happens, the government collapses.

On what charge, and in what jurisdiction? The federal government can’t try the assassin for murder because murder isn’t a federal crime, and also presumably because the crime didn’t occur within its jurisdiction.

I doubt things would be so simplistic, even if we confine ourselves to legal actions. After the 11 September attacks, the US demanded that Afghanistan hand over Osama bin Ladin, despite the fact that the US had no diplomatic relations (and consequently no extradition treaty) with the government of Afghanistan. The fact that the US expected this call for extradition to be answered suggests they would (or ought to) consider similar requests made of them.

Well, that’s why I added a “real world” answer. Look, we all know that when it comes right down to it, nations do what they want to do as long as they have the wherewithal to back it up. We can demand things from Afghanistan because we can enforce those demands. They can’t.

Start with the Logan Act. It has a maximum penalty of 3 years, but that would just be the tip of the iceberg. Anyone who did this would never see daylight again. I’m not a lawyer, but if you think that any private citizen would get away with assassinating a foreign leader - even one that the US government didn’t “approve of”, you are not living in the real world.

It’s different when it’s an internationally protected person, at least if the assassination happens outside of the person’s territory, so assassination in a third country would violate these laws:




And see, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode18/usc_sec_18_00000956----000-.html (conspiracy within US to commit murder in foreign country)

I doubt it.