The Da Vinci Code: Bestsellers and International Law

The Da Vinci Code: Bestsellers and International Law

Now, my recent effort doesn’t qualify as a bestseller, but it certainly has a fair bit to say about international law. But what do actual bestsellers say about international law? Well, this week in lieu of seeing the movie I finally read The Da Vinci Code. Like others before me, although I enjoyed it as a thriller, I was troubled by the book in other respects. In my case, however, it wasn’t the mixing of fact and fiction surrounding Catholic and Christian doctrine that raised my hackles, but author Dan Brown’s often inaccurate portrayal of international legal issues [warning – plot discussions follow, so cease reading if you want to find Mr. Brown’s errors on your own]. For example, check out his discussion of the relationship between French law enforcement activities in France and the U.S. embassy on pp. 61-62:

Fache [the fictional head of la Police Judiciare (DCPJ)] and the ambassador locked horns regularly over shared affairs of state—their most common battleground being law enforcement for visiting Americans. Almost daily, DCPJ arrested American exchange students in possession of drugs, U.S. businessmen for soliciting underage prostitutes, American tourists for shoplifting or destruction of property. Legally, the U.S. Embassy could intervene and extradite guilty citizens back to the United States, where they received nothing more than a slap on the wrist. And the embassy invariably did just that.

The United States has a right to extradite its own nationals back to the United States if they commit a crime in France? Really? Doesn’t that flip the concept of extradition on its head, not to mention its reliance on the flawed notion that U.S. citizenship somehow provides protection when committing crimes under French law in France? But wait, there’s more after the jump.

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