Extradition snag of Uber driver accused of rape

Authorities say an Uber driver raped a woman in his car in San Francisco back in 2017 and then fled the country.

"The district attorney wants to bring charges against an individual who is accused of having raped an unconscious woman in his Uber vehicle when he was driving as an Uber driver," said San Francisco Supervisor Hillary Ronen. 

But the case is on hold.

The suspect, Mohamed Ben Azaza, is behind bars in Canada. San Francisco is a sanctuary city, and Department of Homeland Security officials said they won't extradite the suspect unless the city promises to tell them if the suspect ever makes bail, is acquitted or is no longer facing charges.

People who are in the country illegally are protected under sanctuary city rules, which generally prohibits communication between employees and the federal government regarding a person's immigration status. There are strict rules on when cooperation is allowed

"So that has delayed the ability of the district attorney to seek justice for the victim in the case and to prosecute the individual, making everyone less safe," Ronen said.

But at a rules committee meeting, several supervisors agreed to the notifications that Homeland Security, under the Trump Administration, wants - even if that means the suspect could be deported.

The issue must still come before the full board.

"This is just a narrow agreement that we're forced into because of the current administration in the White House is something that we would never have to do underneath President Obama," said Supervisor Catherine Stefani, a former Contra Costa County prosecutor.

"If we don't bring this individual back to the United States to face trial, he will just likely go back to his country and could again commit acts of against women, which I cannot stand," Stefani said.

Stefani said if other cases come before her, she would have to review them on a case-by-case basis.

The suspect is from Tunisia. Uber tells KTVU he passed a background check and was removed from the app as a result of the rape allegations.

Supervisors say this doesn't mean they're weakening or changing the city's sanctuary law.

"We are not in any way shape or form amending our sanctuary law," Ronen said. "We stand by our sanctuary law. It works. We know that it has kept our community safe."

The full board of supervisors will consider the legislation next week.

Associated Press contributed to this report.