Foreign police and intelligence agencies can
detain persons for many reasons, or for no reason other than suspicion or curiosity. In
some countries where security organs have sweeping powers to detain persons believed to be
a threat to national security, virtually any government document or official statistic
falls under the definition of "state secret." American standards of what is
"open information" do not apply in many foreign countries.
If arrested, follow these guidelines.
- Ask to contact the nearest American Embassy or
Consulate. As a citizen of another country, you have this right; but that does not mean
that your hosts will allow you to exercise that right. If you are refused or just ignored,
continue to make the request periodically until they accede and let you contact the
embassy or consulate.
- Stay calm, maintain your dignity and do not do
anything to provoke the arresting officer(s).
- Do not admit anything or volunteer any
- Do not sign anything. Often, part of the
detention procedure is to ask or tell the detainee to sign a written report. Decline
politely until such time as the document is examined by an attorney or an
- Do not accept anyone on face value. When the
embassy or consulate representative arrives, request some identification before discussing
- Do not fall for the ruse of helping the ones
who are detaining you in return for your release. They can be very imaginative in their
proposals on how you can be of assistance to them. Do not sell yourself out by agreeing to
anything. If they will not take no for an answer, do not make a firm commitment or sign
anything. Tell them that you will think it over and let them know. Once out of their
hands, contact the American Embassy or Consulate for protection and assistance in getting
out of the country.