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16 People Who Said “Fuck It I’m Out of Here”

Neil Radimaker | December 29, 2018

This is a list of notable former United States citizens who voluntarily relinquished their nationality. It includes only public figures who completed the process of relinquishment.

In rare cases (Residency: None), individuals become stateless upon renouncing their citizenship. People who subscribe to Voluntaryist, Agorist, or some other philosophical, political, or religious beliefs may desire or seek statelessness. Many states do not allow citizens to renounce their nationality unless they acquire another. However, consular officials are unlikely to be familiar with the citizenship laws of all countries, so there may still be situations where renunciation leads to effective statelessness.

In law, statelessness is the lack of citizenship and/or nationality, or the absence of a recognized link between an individual and any state. A stateless person is someone who is “not considered as a national by any state under the operation of its law”; he or she has no citizenship or nationality. Some stateless persons are also refugees. However, not all refugees are stateless, and many persons who are stateless have never crossed an international border.

Adam Bilzerian

Occupation: Writer / Poker Player

Residency: United Kingdom

Year: 2008

Reason: Bilzerian, a writer and professional poker player, is a native of Tampa, Florida and the son of corporate takeover specialist Paul Bilzerian. Dissatisfied with the U.S. government’s treatment of his father, who was tried for market manipulation in the early 1990s, and concerned over the direction of the country during the presidency of George W. Bush, Bilzerian emigrated from the U.S. and sought citizenship in Saint Kitts and Nevis.

James Carney

Occupation: Activist

Residency: Honduras

Year: 1974

Reason: Carney, a native of Chicago and a World War II veteran, first went abroad as a missionary to British Honduras (today Belize) in 1955. He moved to Honduras in 1961. Eventually, his belief in liberation theology would lead him to naturalize as a Honduran citizen in September 1974 and then renounce U.S. citizenship as a gesture of support for landless peasants and a measure of protest against the United States’ influence in the country. Despite his naturalization, he was deported from the country in 1979, but returned and then disappeared, believed to have either starved to death in the jungle or been killed by the Honduran military.

Vince Cate

Occupation: Encryption Expert

Residency: Mozambique

Year: 1998

Reason: Cate, an encryption expert, moved to Anguilla in 1994 after completing a master’s degree in computer science at Carnegie Mellon University. He renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1998, in his words, “to be free from the silly U.S. laws on crypto”.

Garry Davis

Occupation: Activist

Residency: None

Year: 1948

Reason: Davis was born in Bar Harbor, Maine. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Davis renounced his U.S. citizenship in 1948 in Paris in order to become a “citizen of the world”, and created the first “World Passport”.

Terry Gilliam

Occupation: Director

Residency: United Kingdom

Year: 2006

Reason: Gilliam was born in Minneapolis. In 1968, he obtained British citizenship, then held dual U.S. and British citizenship for the next 38 years. In January 2006 he renounced his U.S. citizenship, describing the George W. Bush administration as having created an environment “scarily similar to the Orwellian nightmare” of his 1985 film Brazil.

Mike Gogulski

Occupation: Activist

Residency: None

Year: 2008

Reason: Gogulski, a political activist born in Phoenix, Arizona, moved to Eastern Europe in 2004 and then renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2008 in Slovakia without obtaining any other.

Stefan Heym

Occupation: Writer

Residency: East Germany

Year: 1953

Reason: A native of Chemnitz in eastern Germany, Heym fled in the Nazis in 1933 to Czechoslovakia before coming to the U.S. for further studies in 1935. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and later naturalized as a U.S. citizen. He emigrated from the U.S. with his American wife in 1951, fearing investigation by the House Un-American Activities Committee. They first lived in Prague before finally settling in East Germany, where in 1953 he renounced his U.S. citizenship in protest of his former country’s participation in the Korean War.

John Huston

Occupation: Director

Residency: Ireland

Year: 1964

Reason: Nevada, Missouri-born film director, screenwriter, and actor. He emigrated to Ireland in 1952 in disgust over the activities of the House Committee on Un-American Activities, and renounced U.S. citizenship in 1964 to become an Irish citizen.

Henry James

Occupation: Writer

Residency: United Kingdom

Year: 1915

Reason: A native of New York City, James traveled frequently between Europe and the U.S. before settling in England in 1876, where he became famous for novels about Americans living abroad such as Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady. He renounced U.S. citizenship in 1915 and became a British subject to protest U.S. neutrality in World War I.

Thomas Jolley

Occupation: Activist

Residency: None

Year: 1967

Reason: Born in Greensboro, North Carolina, Jolley moved to Canada in 1967 to avoid being after receiving a drafted to serve in the Vietnam War and renounced U.S. citizenship. He returned to the U.S. later that year. A federal appeals court found Jolley to be removable, but Canada refused to re-admit Jolley as he was not a citizen and had lost his landed immigrant status there, and so he went on living in the U.S. as a deportable alien. He died in Asheville, North Carolina in 2014.

Joseph Kurihara

Occupation: Ex – Japanese American internee

Residency: Japan

Year: 1944

Reason: Kurihara was born in Kauai in 1895 to Japanese immigrant parents. He was interned due to his ethnicity at Manzanar and then Tule Lake during World War II, and renounced U.S. citizenship under the Renunciation Act of 1944 in protest of the internment. After the end of World War II, he emigrated to Japan; he never sought to restore his U.S. citizenship, and lived in Tokyo until his death in 1965.

Lo Ta-yu

Occupation: Musician

Residency: Republic of China

Year: 2004

Reason: Lo is a native of Miaoli, Taiwan and a formerly naturalized U.S. citizen. He rose to fame as a singer-songwriter in Taiwan in the 1970s. In May 2004, he held a concert in which he decried Dana Rohrabacher and Jim Ryun’s H.Con.Res. 437 (calling on Taiwan to deploy troops in support of the American occupation of Iraq) and cut up his U.S. passport; the following week, he went to the para-consular American Institute in Taiwan(AIT) to renounce his U.S. citizenship.

Henry Martyn Noel

Occupation: Activist

Residency: None

Year: 1948

Reason: Princeton, New Jersey native who served as an ambulance driver in World War II. Concerned by a “climax of nationalism” in the U.S., he renounced his citizenship while working in France in 1948 and moved to Allied-occupied Germany, where he took a job as a construction worker and lived on German rations. Fellow renunciant Garry Davis would later mention Noel’s actions as inspiration for his own renunciation.

Oona O’Neill

Occupation: Daughter of Nobel and Pulitzer-Prize-winner Eugene O’Neill

Residency: United Kingdom

Year: 1954

Reason: Daughter of American playwright Eugene O’Neill. Emigrated from the U.S. to the United Kingdom in 1952 to join her husband Charlie Chaplin after he was accused of “Communist sympathies” and denied re-entry to the U.S. that year; renounced U.S. citizenship to become a British subject in 1954.

Harmon Wilfred

Occupation: Activist

Residency: None

Year: 2005

Reason: A Denver-area real estate businessman frustrated by fruitless efforts to draw attention to alleged corruption and malfeasance by the Resolution Trust Corporation in the aftermath of the 1980s savings and loan crisis, Wilfred emigrated to Canada and then New Zealand, where he renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2005. He has applied for New Zealand citizenship, but continues to face immigration difficulties in his new country of residence.

Gary Wright

Occupation: Activist / Politician

Residency: Canada

Year: 1974

Reason: A native of Lacey, Washington, Wright became involved with opposition to the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s; his activities with Students for a Democratic Society caused the U.S. State Department to revoke his passport. He emigrated to Canada in 1968, renounced his U.S. citizenship, and became a Canadian citizen in 1974. He would go on to become mayor of New Denver, British Columbia.

Written by Neil Radimaker


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