Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

The Department of State is committed to ensuring fair and humane treatment for U.S. citizens imprisoned overseas.  We stand ready to assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of our authority in accordance with international law, as well as domestic and foreign laws.

While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country’s laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the same protections available to the individual under U.S. law.  Persons violating the law in a foreign country, even unknowingly, may be expelled, fined, arrested, or imprisoned.  If arrested abroad, a citizen must go through the foreign legal process for being charged or indicted, prosecuted, and possibly convicted and sentenced.  Within this framework, U.S. consular officers provide a variety of services to U.S. citizens arrested abroad and their families.