But the court also cited Ker v. Illinois (1886), which involved a thief, Frederick Ker, who’d been convicted in Illinois but fled to Peru, only to be brought back to court by a Pinkerton agent. Rehnquist wrote that Ker’s “presence before the court was procured by means of forcible abduction from Peru.” But because he wasn’t brought back via extradition, the court rejected his claims to rights under extradition law.

Which brings us to Mr. Assange. If his plan is to slink to Ecuador and if the U.S. really wants him, it might do better by avoiding extradition and turning to our secret services to airlift him to stand trial in America.

Even if America kidnaps him, that might not be the end of the story. Witness the denouement of the saga of Dr. Alvarez-Machain, who was put on trial in the same district court that shrank from trying him originally. The judge acquitted him before the case went to the jury. Dr. Alvarez-Machain then sued America and the Mexicans who’d kidnapped him in league with the DEA. That case, too, went to the Supreme Court, where in 2004 Dr. Alvarez-Machain lost unanimously.