Ex-Marine chosen to direct U.S. extradition efforts

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice has hired a retired Marine Corps major general to head the office in charge of bringing overseas criminal defendants to the United States for trial, a task that has grown in importance as the work of U.S. prosecutors increasingly crosses national borders.

Vaughn Ary, a lawyer who was in the Marine Corps for 28 years, has been chosen as director of the department’s Office of International Affairs, according to an internal personnel announcement seen by Reuters.

A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment on the appointment. Ary could not be reached for comment.

Ary resigned last year as the convening authority for U.S. military commissions, a job that put him in charge of operations at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, tribunals. He had angered some defense lawyers and military judges by pushing a plan to increase the pace of trials at the Guantanamo naval base by requiring judges to live there. The plan was scrapped.

The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs is in the middle of negotiating the extradition of drug kingpin Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman from Mexico. In another case, it has asked countries such as Switzerland and Honduras to hand over defendants in a sweeping investigation of corruption in soccer and its world governing body, FIFA.

The office is also charged with negotiating the transfer of evidence across borders through agreements known as mutual legal assistance treaties.

More resources are going toward the office as a result of the increase in workload, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division said on Friday in a speech at a legal conference in San Diego.

Caldwell said she was “very excited” about a new director of the Office of International Affairs, and said that the person would start on Monday. She did not name the person. (Reporting by David Ingram)