File No. 211.65 C 38.
The Italian Chargé to the Secretary of State.
Manchester, Mass., July 1, 1910.
Mr. Secretary of State: By telegram of June 24 last your excellency inquired whether, in instituting extradition proceedings in the case of Porter Charlton, who confessed having committed murder at Moltrasio, the King’s Government intended to depart from the rule heretofore observed not to surrender its own subjects, and whether it was to be inferred that Italians guilty of an offense committed on American territory who should take refuge in Italy should hereafter be delivered without fail to the American Government.
I now have the honor to inform your excellency that the King’s Government can not depart from the principle established by our law that our nationals can not be surrendered to foreign powers. Furthermore, this principle does not conflict with the provisions of the extradition convention. Indeed, it seems logical that, so far as parity in the matter of extraditing their respective citizens or subjects is concerned, each party should, in the absence of specific provisions in the convention itself, be guided by the spirit of its own legislation.
The Italian law does not consent to the extradition of nationals, but the Italian courts are competent to try, on the request of a foreign Government, their nationals who may have committed offenses on that Government’s territory.
Contrariwise, the laws of the United States by not permitting local tribunals to try American citizens for offenses committed abroad seem to admit of their being extradited. Otherwise an offender [Page 652] would, under the aegis of the law itself, escape the punishment he deserves.
I have the honor to inform your excellency that the requisite extradition papers in the case of Porter Charlton will be forwarded to me without delay, and in the meanwhile I beg you kindly to cause the prisoner to be held in provisional detention.