Arrest of a U.S. Citizen

The Consular Officer’s Role

One of the most important tasks of the Department of State and U.S. Embassies is to provide assistance to U.S. citizens detained or incarcerated overseas.   In the event of the arrest of a U.S. citizen in Chile, the American Citizen Services Unit may be reached during regular business hours (8:30 – 5:00) through the Embassy’s main telephone line (56-2) 2330-3000; after hours, the caller will be transferred to the Embassy’s duty officer.

The U.S. consular officer can provide the following assistance:

  • Visit the detainee in jail.
  • Provide the detainee with a list of attorneys (PDF 50 KB) in the case that the detainee does not have legal counsel.  Consular officers cannot provide legal advice or intervene in judicial cases under federal regulations.
  • Contact family members or friends and relay requests for monetary assistance or other aid at the request and express consent of the detainee, in compliance with the Privacy Act.
  • Ensure that the prisoner is treated fairly and humanely.
  • Process a U.S. Government loan for medical and dietary assistance when the host government cannot provide such services to the prisoner.