(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, whoever, whether inside or outside the United States, seizes or detains and threatens to kill, to injure, or to continue to detain another person in order to compel a third person or a governmental organization to do or abstain from doing any act as an explicit or implicit condition for the release of the person detained, or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished by imprisonment for any term of years or for life and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment.
(b)(1) It is not an offense under this section if the conduct required for the offense occurred outside the United States unless—
(A) the offender or the person seized or detained is a national of the United States;
(B) the offender is found in the United States; or
(C) the governmental organization sought to be compelled is the Government of the United States.
(2) It is not an offense under this section if the conduct required for the offense occurred inside the United States, each alleged offender and each person seized or detained are nationals of the United States, and each alleged offender is found in the United States, unless the governmental organization sought to be compelled is the Government of the United States.
(c) As used in this section, the term "national of the United States" has the meaning given such term in section 101(a)(22) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(22)).
(Added Pub. L. 98–473, title II, §2002(a), Oct. 12, 1984, 98 Stat. 2186; amended Pub. L. 100–690, title VII, §7028, Nov. 18, 1988, 102 Stat. 4397; Pub. L. 103–322, title VI, §60003(a)(10), Sept. 13, 1994, 108 Stat. 1969; Pub. L. 104–132, title VII, §723(a)(1), Apr. 24, 1996, 110 Stat. 1300.)
1996—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 104–132 inserted "or conspires" after "attempts".
1994—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 103–322 inserted before period at end "and, if the death of any person results, shall be punished by death or life imprisonment".
1988—Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 100–690 substituted "(c) As" for "(C) As".
Pub. L. 98–473, title II, §2003, Oct. 12, 1984, 98 Stat. 2186, provided that: "This part [part A (§§2001–2003) of chapter XX of title II of Pub. L. 98–473, enacting this section and provisions set out as a note under section 1201 of this title] and the amendments made by this part shall take effect on the later of—
"(1) the date of the enactment of this joint resolution [Oct. 12, 1984]; or
"(2) the date the International Convention Against the Taking of Hostages has come into force and the United States has become a party to that convention [the convention entered into force June 6, 1983; and entered into force for the United States Jan. 6, 1985]."