1:36 PM PDT, June 11, 2021
Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he and President Joe Biden are “working together,” to end a major diplomatic rift over whether American diplomat Anne Sacoolas should face trial in Britain over the death of 19-year-old Harry Dunn, according to published reports.
Sacoolas claimed diplomatic immunity after the teenager died when her car hit his motorcycle on Aug. 27, 2019, CBS News reported.
The 43-year-old mother of three admitted to the police that she caused the car crash that struck Dunn moments after she left the RAF Croughton military base in Northamptonshire where her husband, Jonathan Sacoolas, worked as an intelligence officer for a U.S. intelligence company.
In December 2019, Sacoolas was charged by British prosecutors with causing death by dangerous driving over the crash that killed the teenager, CBS reported.
In January 2020, an extradition request was rejected by the U.S. State Department, a decision it later described as “final,” CBS reported.
Sacoolas, who lives in Virginia, left the United Kingdom shortly after the U.S. asserted that she was entitled to diplomatic immunity, meaning there would be no criminal prosecution, the BBC reported.
Diplomatic immunity is granted to diplomatic personnel that would exempt them from the laws of a foreign jurisdiction while they are stationed abroad.
On Thursday, speaking at the G7 in Cornwall, Johnson said the president was “extremely sympathetic,” and “actively engaged” in the case, but also stressed that “legal processes,” had to be allowed to take their course, the BBC reported.
Dunn’s mother, Charlotte Charles called their talks a “significant development,” and said she “couldn’t be more grateful” and also said she was “anxious to await further information,” on how it will help the case, a report said.
“It means a tremendous amount that the first time that Mr. Johnson gets an opportunity to meet President Biden face-to-face he raises Harry,” she said.
The family has campaigned for Sacoolas to be stripped of diplomatic immunity in order to be tried in a British court over their son’s death.
Charles said that she hoped Biden, who lost his first wife and their one-year-old daughter in a car crash in 1972 and has spoken openly about the trauma he and his surviving sons, Hunter and Beau had to endure, would be “sympathetic.”
“My hope as always, my family’s hope as always, is to ensure that I can complete my promise to Harry,” said Charles. “We will not rest until justice is done.
In late 2019, Dunn’s parents had accepted an invitation to the White House on behalf of former President Donald Trump without knowledge that Sacoolas had been invited, as well. The family said they declined the unexpected offer to meet with Sacoolas, explaining that they “weren’t emotionally ready at the time,” CBS reported.
Dunn’s parents later described the meeting as “traumatic” and a “publicity stunt,” CBS said.
If Sacoolas is tried of the charges originally brought against her and convicted, she could face a maximum sentence of 14 years in prison.
Separately, a senior judge in the U.S. has given Dunn’s parents permission to sue Sacoolas and her husband, Jonathan, the BBC reported.