Authorities in the United Kingdom are pursuing the return of Kevin Spacey from the United States to face sexual assault charges. The UK is going to seek a formal extradition process for the actor unless he decides to come back voluntarily.
The international criminality directorate, which is a special unit within the Home Office, will act on behalf of police and prosecutors.
Experts in extradition say that police in the U.S. would be sent to find Spacey and detain him on behalf of British authorities.
The news comes after the Crown Prosecution Service announced at the end of last week that it had authorized four charges of sexual assault against Spacey. The sexual assault charges relate to alleged attacks against three men between 2005 and 2013. The charges were filed following an investigation by the Metropolitan police.
Formal extradition is not a quick process and could take months to pursue. A former head of extradition at the Crown Prosecution Service, Nick Vamos, said that the U.S. Department of Justice officials would first study papers sent by the British authorities. They then would have to be satisfied there was “probable cause” the offenses may have been committed.
If the DOJ does believe there is enough probable cause, the U.S. would be under an obligation to arrest Spacey. The Justice Department would then instruct U.S. Marshalls to locate Spacey and detain him.
Spacey has the option of surrendering himself and not contesting extradition. If Spacey does not contest extradition, it could take weeks. But if he does contest it, it could take months. The U.S. system made it harder to resist an extradition request than the United Kingdom has.
If Spacey was formally extradited, he would have greater protections, because only the charges agreed by a U.S. court could then be brought against him in the U.K. So experts believe it is likely that he would opt for this route.