If Italy’s highest court upholds Amanda Knox’ murder conviction and Italy asks the U.S. to extradite her, whether or not the U.S. really would extradite her turns out to be less about law, and more about politics and foreign policy, says NPR. “It’s the dirty little secret of extradition law that it really is 90 percent politics and only about 10 percent law,” says Steve Vladeck, a law professor at American University. “It’s as much about the diplomatic and foreign policy considerations as it is about legal considerations.”
When a country makes a valid extradition request, it up to the State Department to through. The U.S. has an extradition treaty with Italy, and politics shouldn’t make a difference in the process, says Clive Nicholls, a barrister in the U.K. who works on extradition cases and co-authored a book on the subject. “You have a treaty, you apply it, and you are meant to do so dispassionately,” Nicholls says. In reality, political considerations often call the shots. “It certainly has happened where the secretary of state has decided not to extradite, even though there was no legal hurdle,” says Mark Ellis, executive director of the International Bar Association.