112. Telegram 2028 From the Embassy in Costa Rica to the Department of State1

2028. Subject: Extradition Treaty—Robert Vesco. Ref: State 109575.

1. As instructed, I called on FonMin Facio at 11 a.m. this morning to present diplomatic note requesting preliminary warrant of arrest for extradition of Robert Vesco. FonMin assured me full cooperation and promised to contact President of Supreme Court immediately to start necessary procedures.

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2. According to Facio, Supreme Court must designate judge to hear this matter and issue preliminary warrant of arrest. As soon as judge is designated, hopefully today, Facio stated that an Ambassador must appear before court (rather than some other diplomatic officer) to make complaint and statement under oath pursuant to Extradition Treaty in form specified by judge. Facio believes that procedures will follow provisions of extradition law of July 16, 1971, although he agreed that Extradition Treaty is governing.

3. I inquired whether under Article 13 of Treaty we may continue to receive assistance of Procurador General in making legal arrangements. Minister responded affirmatively, and later stated that FonOff official competent in legal matters would accompany me to the court.

4. FonMin said he did not know whether Vesco is in Costa Rica, and undertook to find out. In any case, I emphasized and he agreed that we should proceed with request for preliminary warrant of arrest, since Vesco is legal resident of Costa Rica and may return.

5. I said that we of course hope that this whole matter may be kept secret in order not to alert Vesco and thus facilitate his escape. FonMin promised to maintain this confidence and also to investigate whether there are ways to prevent escape even before arrest warrant is issued. (I realize that Facio may have conflict of interest in pursuing this action against Vesco, but for the moment I believe we must take his statements at face value.)

6. I continue to believe that this matter may become public soon. In any case, I wish to contact a local attorney immediately for his advice and possible assistance in future developments. Attorneys I am considering are prestigious and non-political, but they are also very expensive. It is possible that fees might run to several thousands of dollars before this is over. Request immediate confirmation that my authorization to employ lawyer will cover this.

  1. Summary: The Embassy asked the Costa Rican Government arrest Vesco in conjunction with a U.S. request for his extradition on a fraud charge.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Country Files, Box 779, Latin America, Costa Rica. Confidential; Exdis; Immediate. In telegram 109575 to San José, June 7, the Department instructed the Embassy to deliver the diplomatic note. (Ibid.) In telegram 2070 from San José, June 7, the Embassy reported the opinion of a Costa Rican attorney that the U.S. request for Vesco’s extradition could be weakened by the fact that the activities that led to fraud charges against him in the United States might not be considered criminal in Costa Rica. (Ibid.) In telegram 2117 from San José, June 13, the Embassy reported that a Costa Rican court decided not to issue a warrant for Vesco’s arrest. (Ibid.) In telegram 2182 from San José, June 16, the Embassy reported that the judge had rejected its appeal of the initial decision. (Ibid.)