One thing I’ve never understood is why kidnapping children across the border of countries is something, as a planet, we’re OK with.

I say this because Venture Capitalist Mark Suster has put out a public plea for help with regard to a friend of his who’s had this happen to him. Mark Suster’s account:

imageColin & I have been close friends for 13 years when we started our MBA program together.  We then both lived in London and our children played together.  Colin moved back to his home town of Boston before I returned to the US and unfortunately he got divorced from his wife, an Egyptian national, in 2008.  He was granted full legal custody by the US courts of his two young boys (US citizens).  His wife created forged passports in a fake name and kidnapped his two children by illegally flying back to Cairo on Egypt Air.  He hasn’t seen them in more than a year and she is in hiding.

Mirvat el Nady now has an arrest warrant in the US and is wanted by Interpol (see here).  Colin is being supported by his Senator John Kerry and has received help from Vice President Biden and Attorney General, Eric Holder.  The problem is that Egypt doesn’t support the Hague Convention and doesn’t have an extradition policy with the United States so they don’t recognize any of the international legal rulings in Colin’s favor.  Colin has now won visitation rights in an Egyptian court, but Mirvat didn’t show up at the legally required meeting day / time in Egypt.

This is an issue that’s pretty close to my heart. I have a friend that I’ve known for so long, I consider him a brother. Shortly after his second daughter was born, my friend’s wife split on him (and shacked up with our former boss when we worked together at Nokia). My friend and I were the direct caregivers for his daughter six days a week, for a year or so. Eventually, I had to take job opportunities in other parts of the country, but my friend continued to care for his daughter while working from his home …

… Until a weekend visitation came along that never ended. His ex-wife picked up the daughter, boarded a plane for Canada, and hasn’t been seen since.

In the intervening years, the girl I came to regard as a niece, if not an adopted daughter, has become a pre-teen. She’s not been back to visit her daddy or I for one single day, and only very recently was allowed to contact us (after my friend tracked her down on MySpace and Facebook).

We know her exact location and exactly who she’s living with. The court paperwork says that my friend is the primary guardian, and my friend’s ex-wife is only to have “visitation rights.”

Still, the Canadian government nor the US government in the many years since seem to want anything to do with helping my friend.

So while I feel for Mark Suster’s friend – I don’t hold out much hope that he’ll see a happy resolution to this problem. If the US is afraid of fouling diplomatic relations with Canada (yes, that superpower known as CANADA, people), I don’t see a lot of bright spots coming from a diplomatic fiasco with Egypt.