The arrest and detention of Australians overseas continues to make headline news. What Australia is able and willing to do to assist one of its nationals imprisoned abroad is a complex issue steeped in legal questions and political considerations. Legal avenues for assisting Australians imprisoned abroad are explored in this article through an examination of the relatively high profile cases of David Hicks, Stern Hu, Scott Rush and Jock Palfreeman. In navigating the legal framework, three broad themes emerge: the bond of nationality, the protection of human rights, and the importance of reciprocity. It is argued here that, from both a legal and political perspective, greatest emphasis should be placed on reciprocity in order to best understand the decisions the Commonwealth government may make and the options available to the individuals concerned.