FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2018, photo U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents surround and detain a person during a raid in Richmond, Va.
FILE - In this Oct. 22, 2018, photo U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents surround and detain a person during a raid in Richmond, Va.

What is extradition? 

Extradition is the formal process, established by a bilateral or multilateral treaty, that allows one country to return a criminal to face prosecution or punishment in the country where the crime was committed. 

What is contained in an extradition treaty?

Modern treaties consider as extraditable any action that is considered a crime in both countries. Most nations make exceptions, however, such as in the case of political or military actions. Some countries also refuse to extradite individuals who may face the death penalty or life in prison, but they might make exceptions if the requesting authority pledges not to impose those penalties. Many states also will not extradite their own citizens to face punishment in another country. 

How does the US extradition process work?

To extradite a person from the U.S.: the country requesting the extradition must submit a request to the U.S. State Department along with details about the subject, the crime and evidence. The request is then passed on to the Justice Department, which reviews the case to make sure it complies with the treaty in place. If so, a warrant is obtained, the person is arrested and brought before a federal judge or magistrate. After that, it is up to the court to decide if there is a probable cause for the person to be extradited. The case then goes back to the State Department, and the Secretary of State has the final say.

To extradite a person to the U.S.: a state or federal prosecutor must first determine if the case is worth pursuing. If it is so determined, a request is sent to the Justice Department, which must determine the case's merit. If approved it is then sent to the State Department, which sends it on to the relevant U.S. embassy. It is then turned over to the proper authorities in the country of refuge. If the extradition request is approved, the U.S. Marshals Service is often sent to escort the fugitive to the United States.

Interpol red notice: Any country that belongs to the international police organization, and has a valid arrest warrant or court order, can request what is known as a red notice for a wanted individual. The red notice puts all police departments and border agencies on alert. If the subject of the red notice is found, the arresting country can initiate extradition proceedings. 

Which countries have extradition treaties with the US? 

The U.S. has extradition treaties with more than half the nations of the world, including most of Europe and all of Central and South America. It does not have treaties, though, with dozens of others, including China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, as well as many African, Middle Eastern, and former Soviet nations. But not having a treaty in place does not mean nationals of those countries cannot be extradited. In those cases, fugitive-return requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis. 

Extradition case in the news right now

On Wednesday, a top Chinese technology executive is set to appear in a Canadian court as she continues to fight extraction to the U.S. Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who also is the daughter of the company's founder, was arrested in December at the Vancouver airport at Washington's request. U.S. officials have charged Meng with bank and wire fraud related to Huawei's business with Iran, which is under sanctions from the United States. Meng has denied any wrongdoing.