Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

The Department of State is committed to ensuring fair and humane treatment for U.S. citizens imprisoned overseas. We stand ready to assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of our authority in accordance with international, domestic and foreign law.

Officers of the Department of State and U.S. embassies and consulates overseas are prohibited by federal regulation from acting as agents, attorneys or in a fiduciary capacity on behalf of U.S. citizens involved in legal disputes overseas. Department of State personnel, including its attorneys, do not provide legal advice to the public.

For more information please see the Department of State’s webpage on retaining a foreign attorney.

We can help:


  • Provide a list of local attorneys
  • 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
  • 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, ensure that prison officials are permitting visits with a member of the clergy of the religion of the U.S. citizen’s choice
  • Establish an Overseas Citizen Services (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

If you are arrested overseas (or know a U.S. citizen who has been arrested):

  • Ask the prison authorities to notify the U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • You may also wish to reach out to the closest U.S. embassy or consulate to let us know of the arrest.  Get contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas or view individual Country Specific Information  pages.
  • For routine questions regarding American Citizen Services in Morocco, please contact us 05-22-64-20-99, or by email at For emergencies involving a U.S. citizen that occur outside of regular business hours, please contact the U.S. Embassy at 05-37-63-72-00 (dialing from Morocco) or +212-537-63-72-00 (dialing from outside Morocco).

Avoid getting arrested overseas by:


  • Following the laws and regulations of the country you are visiting or living in.
  • Learning about laws there which might be different from the laws in the United States. We provide some information for each country on our Country Specific pages.  For further information on laws within the foreign country before you go, contact that country’s nearest embassy or consulate within the United States.