Let’s have some fun today.
Imagine you’re being pursued by government agents, angry creditors, a vindictive ex-spouse, or a hitman with a bounty on your head. You need to find somewhere to hide out under the radar until things blow over… or possibly forever.
Where would you go?
Your first inclination may well be to look for one of the world’s non-extradition countries.
Of course, I’m not advocating that you flee the law. But think about: if the government upped their tyranny and starting criminalizing human rights, or you owed a violent casino boss millions, where would you escape to?
And, would you change your appearance, get a tattoo, or even go so far as Johnny Depp in the critically panned movie The Tourist?
The other night, I watched an ABC News piece about infomercial king Kevin Trudeau. Whether you like Kevin or not, it’s pretty crazy what the US government is doing to him – a $37.6 million fine for publishing a book about an allegedly “easy” weight loss system.
The government gets to use its own court system with its own paid stooges and a bunch of corrupt agencies dedicated to “consumer welfare” that have yet to stop people from dying from bad drugs or getting scammed.
And they don’t exactly like the fact that Kevin Trudeau loves to stick his finger in their eye rather than just play along the with charade. [UPDATE: Trudeau has since been sentenced to ten years in jail for "criminal contempt".]
The news clip showed ABC News reporter Bill Weir tracking down Trudeau in his new home in Switzerland. As indignant as Weir tried to be, it was hard to believe he actually found Trudeau’s open secret of living abroad to be so foul. As much as you and I find the liberties in The Land of the Free to be lacking, imagine if they hit you with a $37.6 million fine.
The interesting thing is that Switzerland has an extradition treaty with the United States. Now, Trudeau is not a fugitive, but with some facocta criminal charges pending, you never know when the US government might want to make some cocky show of force and play the “we didn’t think you were coming back” card.
Just look at Julian Assange or Edward Snowden. US Secretary of State John Kerry recently took to the airwaves to denounce Snowden, saying he should absolutely return to US soil and “face justice”.
Snowden is public enemy number one because he exposed the government’s secrets.
Now, the US government is going to put a lot more effort into tracking down Edward Snowden than they are many others. After all, Snowden left a lot of egg on their face, and actually woke a few people up – including the German government - to the huge American surveillance state.
However, it’s important to consider rule #1…
Governments don’t always recognize non-extradition countries
In 2012, some 900 people were sent back to the United States for example. Most of them were sent from Canada, Mexico, and Colombia.
About half of them were drug traffickers, but others were involved in fraud, homicide, and pornography.
However, countries like Spain and even Yemen in the Middle East have been known to return fugitives even without an extradition treaty. They make it very easy for friendly governments to nab people there.
However, there are times when countries with extradition agreements won’t play ball. The main one is Cuba, where close to one hundred alleged criminals are hiding out. The United States and Cuba do have a treaty but chilly diplomatic relations have meant it is rarely used.
How to find countries without extradition treaties?
The general impression is that anyone wanting to hide out in one of these non extradition countries has to go to some hellhole in the ends of the earth. That’s not necessarily true.
I’ve always wondered why people who fled the law ended up somewhere like Spain. Do they think some go-along-to-get-along European country is going to protect them? If you’re not a Spanish citizen, you might as well have just stayed at home.
Governments – especially Uncle Sam – are notorious for trumping up charges that will make most western governments give you up in two seconds flat. It’s not like no one would think to look for you in a tourist hangout, anyway… ha ha.
While Brunei is no constitutionalist’s picnic, it’s one of the wealthiest countries to have no extradition treaty with the US. The Sultan doesn’t want anyone meddling in his affairs. If you played it cool there and didn’t start dry humping your new girlfriend in public, you’d probably be pretty cool.
It’s exactly that reason why I’m a bigger fan of countries like Russia and China than some people might suspect based on my free market view. Big countries like that don’t want to be pushed around by the US government the way smaller countries might suffer from.
Other wealthy countries with no extradition treaty include the wealthy Gulf states of Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates don’t have one either, although their governments have made it clear they want nothing to do with being a safe haven for “criminals”.
This despite Dubai playing home to the deposed prime minister of Thailand.
I doubt you’d be welcomed with open arms into the local cultures of these Middle Eastern countries, but living in a country with more air-conditioned shopping malls and Rolls Royces than any other doesn’t sound like a terrible punishment.
Go further into Asia and you’ll find any number of places that don’t play ball with the US government.
Speaking of China, it is rarely mentioned as a country without extradition, but it does not have an extradition treaty with the United States. Before you balk at the idea of living in China, consider that the country is as large as The Land of the Free with any kind of lifestyle you want for your time on the lamb, from five-star ultra-chic to backpacker cheap.
Meanwhile, Vietnam, Cambodia, and rapidly-growing Mongola are also countries without extradition. I’d argue any of those countries could improve your business success by living there – whether you were hiding out or not.
Perhaps someone should start “no extradition tours” and force people to start businesses in fast growing boom markets as “punishment”.
Love the beach? Maldives, Vanuatu, and Tunisia are all non extradition countries.
So is Indonesia, where the economy has grown so fast a real estate bubble is developing at warp speed. That said, Jakarta is perhaps the cheapest city in the region. And of course, Indonesia is home to Bali, as well.
In Africa, Ethiopia and Botswana, two of the continent’s star economies, don’t have many extradition treaties.
Non extradition countries vs. countries with no diplomatic ties
Of course, there are true hideouts you wouldn’t want to hide out in. Beyond just having no extradition treaty, they are the places with no diplomatic relations with your home country.
I don’t think Mogadishu would suit too many peoples’ taste… even this time of year. Although I’m sure it is more livable than the western media would have you believe. Heck, there is a Free Somalia Project encouraging people to move there.
Or what about North Korea… anyone?
Likewise, I could argue most parts of Iran aren’t as bad as western propaganda want you to think they are, but I still doubt it would have many takers.
If you’re an American, Cuba and the isolated Asian nation of Bhutan – home to all of zero traffic lights – are the only non-war zones on the list of countries with no diplomatic ties.
Countries the United States has sworn off as enemies may be among your best bets, since the CIA could always come in and grab you, non-extradition country or not.
As for other nations, they include African countries like Western Sahara, which one journalist called a perfect anarchist state “fit for a Bond villain”.
There is little to no infrastructure in such countries and it is doubtful you would even be discovered there. Of course, you might attract a little attention if you show up as a white guy with a diamond Rolex.
If you prefer Latin culture, Venezuela does have one of the original extradition treaties with the United States. However, Hugo Chavez rarely complied. I doubt the new government would, either. To guys like this, laws are meant to be interpreted at their whimsical discretion.
Although that really goes for all governments.
Maybe such a place is the perfect place to hide out. After all, your reading this site indicates you’re a bit of a contrarian and don’t buy into all the BS about everyone getting shot the minute they step out of the United States.
In an era of government over-cooperation that has led to crack downs on some pretty stupid “crimes”, it’s nice to see not everyone is willing to play ball with the global statist mindset.
You just have to realize that your own government breaks the rules, too; you may recall talk of the CIA executing “unfavorable individuals” in the jungles of Ecuador. Who needs an extradition treaty when you’ve got the law of the jungle?
The difference between having no extradition treaty and not extraditing
Now, just because a country has no extradition treaty doesn’t mean it never turns criminals over. It simply means there is no hard-and-fast mechanism for doing it in a diplomatic way.
Again, some larger, all-powerful governments (cough, cough) have been known to simply walk onto foreign soil and grab whomever it is they want. In other cases, they ask – or bully – first and get the non extradition country to hand the suspect over.
This is where having dual citizenship can be helpful. Some countries simply don’t extradite their citizens no matter what. Brazil is on that list, as is Venezuela. (Just don’t buy into the “quick” way to get a gray market passport in Venezuela, which costs thousands of dollars and can end up with you in a holding cell.)
If you’re waiting for a knock on the door from Terry Benedict’s guys – or the gestapo – there are global hide-outs where you could live out your days, and judging by the looks of some of these places, things could be worse.
Now, go out and fly right. I don’t want anyone knocking on MY door looking for one of you.
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