January 24, 2020
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has declined Britain’s request for the extradition of a U.S. diplomat’s wife who was involved in a car crash last year that killed a British teenager, the State Department said on Thursday.
British prosecutors have requested the extradition of Anne Sacoolas over the crash last August in which 19-year-old Briton Harry Dunn was killed while riding his motorbike.
“At the time the accident occurred, and for the duration of her stay in the UK, the U.S. citizen driver in this case had immunity from criminal jurisdiction,” a State Department representative said in a statement.
“If the United States were to grant the UK’s extradition request, it would render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity and would set an extraordinarily troubling precedent,” the statement said.
Dunn’s family has said Sacoolas was driving on the wrong side of the road at the time of the crash near an air force base in central England used by the U.S. military.
Sacoolas was given diplomatic immunity and left Britain shortly after the accident. Her lawyer has said that she would not return voluntarily to Britain to possibly face jail for “a terrible but unintentional accident.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said Sacoolas was wrong to use diplomatic immunity to leave Britain and has urged U.S. President Donald Trump to reconsider the U.S. position.
Dunn’s parents met Trump at the White House in October. Trump hoped to persuade them meet to Sacoolas, who was in the building at the same time, but they declined.
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Mohammad Zargham & Simon Cameron-Moore)