Foreign Sovereign Immunity

The Media Coverage of Turkiye Halk Bankasi, in Review

Last week, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States, a criminal case originating in the Second Circuit. The defendant, Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. (“Halkbank”), is a foreign state-owned commercial bank, headquartered in Istanbul, and a subsidiary of the Turkish government’s sovereign wealth fund. Charged with laundering over $1…

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Is Buying Fighter Jets a Commercial Activity?

The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) allows actions against foreign states to be brought in U.S. courts based on their commercial activities. In Republic of Argentina v. Weltover (1992), the Supreme Court held “that when a foreign government acts, not as regulator of a market, but in the manner of a private player within it,…

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Expert Recap and Analysis of Halkbank Oral Argument at the Supreme Court

Editor’s Note: This article also appears in Just Security. On January 17, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Türkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. (Halkbank) v. United States. The case asks whether Halkbank, which is majority-owned by the Turkish Wealth Fund (TWF), enjoys immunity from criminal prosecution in U.S. courts. Last spring, I previewed the unresolved…

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Executive Control Versus “Deference” in Halkbank

On January 17, the Supreme Court heard oral argument in Turkiye Halk Bankasi A.S. v. United States(Halkbank) on whether the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA) applies to criminal prosecutions. One argument advanced by the government in Halkbank (and other immunity cases) is that the executive branch has absolute control over immunity determinations not governed by…

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Supreme Court Denies Cert in More Transnational Litigation Cases

On Monday, I reported that the Supreme Court denied cert in NSO Group Technologies Ltd. v. WhatsApp Inc., letting stand a Ninth Circuit decision that companies that work for foreign governments cannot claim immunity from suit under federal common law. Monday’s orders list also denied cert in two other cases that TLB has been following. First,…

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Supreme Court Denies Cert in NSO v. WhatsApp

Today, the Supreme Court denied cert in NSO Group Technologies Ltd. v. WhatsApp Inc. The order lets stand a Ninth Circuit decision holding that entities that do not meet the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act’s (FSIA) definition of an “agency or instrumentality” of a foreign state cannot claim immunity under federal common law. (Disclosure: I joined an amicus brief…

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Resolving the Immunity Issues in Halkbank

The question now before the U.S. Supreme Court in Türkiye Halk Bankasi A.Ş., v. United States is whether a foreign state’s wholly-owned private bank is immune from criminal prosecution in U.S. courts. The issue is framed as one of statutory interpretation, since the Second Circuit affirmed District Judge Berman’s ruling that the 1976 Foreign Sovereign…

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The Fate of the Afghan Central Bank Assets – State of Play

Afghanistan is experiencing a humanitarian and economic crisis following the Taliban’s return to power in the wake of the U.S. withdrawal of forces in August 2021. As previously covered on TLB (and on Lawfare), the U.S. government has frozen roughly $7 billion in assets held by Afghanistan’s central bank, Da Afghanistan Bank (DAB), that were…

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The FSIA “Two Step”—Venue in Enforcement Actions Against Foreign States

When a party holding a foreign judgment or arbitral award wants to enforce the judgment or award against assets in the United States, it normally brings an enforcement action in the jurisdiction where the assets are located. But when the judgment debtor is a foreign state, the venue provision of the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act…

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The Executive Does Not Control Common Law Immunity

A previously reported on TLB, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Türkiye Halk Bankasi, A.S. v. United States, to decide whether a bank owned by Turkey is entitled to foreign state immunity from federal criminal prosecution.  Halkbank was indicted for evading sanctions against Iran. Both lower courts denied immunity to Halkbank, reasoning in part that…

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Ingrid (Wuerth) Brunk

Vanderbilt Law School
ingrid.wuerth@vanderbilt.eduEmail

William Dodge

UC Davis School of Law
wsdodge@ucdavis.eduEmail

Maggie Gardner

Cornell Law School
mgardner@cornell.eduEmail

John Coyle

University of North Carolina School of Law
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Zachary D. Clopton

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law
zclopton@law.northwestern.eduEmail

Matt Hornung

Cornell Law School
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Jonathan Schaffer-Goddard

Holwell Shuster & Goldberg; 4 Pump Court, London
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Chimène Keitner

UC Hastings Law
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David P. Stewart

Georgetown University Law Center
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Curtis A. Bradley

University of Chicago Law School
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Benjamin Hayward

Department of Business Law and Taxation, Monash Business School
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Rajat Lal

Faculty of Law, Monash University
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David Landau

Florida State University College of Law
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Katie Burghardt Kramer

DGW Kramer LLP
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Tanya Monestier

University at Buffalo School of Law
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