POLITICS

U.S. Declines British Request To Extradite Diplomat's Wife Who Killed Teen

The State Department said it will not extradite Anne Sacoolas to the U.K. because she is allegedly protected by "diplomatic immunity" in the death of Harry Dunn.

The United States government will not extradite a diplomat’s wife who killed a teenager while driving on the wrong side of the road in England, according to the State Department.

Anne Sacoolas and her family retreated to the U.S. from the United Kingdom just weeks after the Aug. 27 crash that left 19-year-old motorcyclist Harry Dunn dead. She was charged last month in the U.K. with causing death by dangerous driving, which can only be prosecuted once she is extradited from the U.S.

The State Department said Thursday, however, that the U.S. government will not fulfill the U.K.’s extradition request because Sacoolas, 42, had “immunity from criminal jurisdiction” at the time the crash occurred and for the duration of her stay in England.

“If the United States were to grant the U.K.’s extradition request, it would render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity and would set an extraordinarily troubling precedent,” a spokesperson for the department said. “The United States has a history of close law enforcement cooperation with the United Kingdom, and we value that relationship. 

“The United States government again expresses its sincere condolences and sympathy to the Dunn family for the loss of their son.”

Public outrage in the U.K. over the diplomatic immunity claim led Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ask President Donald Trump to intervene. Trump defended Sacoolas in October after Dunn’s parents came to the White House to plead with American officials to reconsider Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity.

“It was very sad, to be honest,” Trump said in October. “They lost their son. I believe it was going down the wrong way because that happens in Europe. You go to Europe and the roads are opposite. And it’s very tough if you’re from the U.S. … That happens to a lot of people, by the way.”

Dunn’s grieving parents were unhappy with the White House visit, as Trump surprised them by revealing that Sacoolas was in the next room ready to apologize. The parents said they would only meet her when she returns to the U.K., and in December they welcomed the charge against Sacoolas.

“We feel that we’ve taken a huge step in the start of achieving the promise to Harry that we made,” said his mother, Charlotte Charles.

Sacoolas told British police after the crash outside the military base, RAF Coughton, that she did not plan to leave the country. British authorities were preparing to ask the State Department to waive Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity when the family abruptly left for the U.S.

It’s unclear whether Sacoolas could be forced back to the U.K. Under international law, diplomats and their families are immune from host country prosecution. But British officials have alleged that Sacoolas’s husband, Jonathan Sacoolas, was not a registered diplomat.