Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

U.S. citizens in Gabon or Sao Tome & Principe are subject to the laws of those respective countries.  Host country law enforcement authorities have the right to arrest U.S. citizens suspected of breaking local law, even when the alleged crime would not be illegal in the United States.  If a U.S. citizen is arrested, Consular officers at the Embassy will monitor the prisoner’s treatment and provide services to the prisoner and his or her family, to the extent permitted by law.  The Embassy’s services are limited  to trying to ensure the prisoner’s well-being while incarcerated, not to affect the outcome of legal proceedings.  The Embassy cannot attempt to secure the release of an incarcerated U.S. citizen, nor can the Embassy provide legal representation or advice.  The Embassy will, however, provide incarcerated persons with a list of local attorneys.

Consular Assistance to U.S. Prisoners:

When a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, we can provide the following services:

  • Provide a list of local attorneys who speak English
  • Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen with their written permission
  • Visit the detained U.S. citizen regularly and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate
  • Help ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care for you
  • Provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process
  • Inform the detainee of local and U.S.-based resources to assist victims of crime that may be available to them
  • If they would like, ensuring that prison officials are permitting visits with  a member of the clergy of the religion of your choice
  • Establish an OCS Trust so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens, when permissible under prison regulations

We cannot:

  • Get U.S. citizens out of jail overseas
  • State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent
  • Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court overseas
  • Serve as official interpreters or translators
  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens overseas