Kremlin critic: Russia abusing Interpol system

Bill Browder

Bill Browder

A prominent critic of the Kremlin says Russian Federation is trying to block his investigation into the murder of a former employee by abusing an Interpol system of warrants that caused him to be briefly detained in Spain on Wednesday.

Browder has led a campaign to persuade countries to adopt sanctions on Russian officials believed to be responsible for human rights abuses after the death of Magnitsky.

The Spanish National Police and the Spanish Home Office initially declined to confirm the news or provide any further details.

Mr Browder later said he had been released after the Interpol general secretary in Lyon advised Spanish police "not to honour the new Russian Interpol red notice".

A Russian court sentenced Browder to nine years in prison in absentia in December after finding him guilty of deliberate bankruptcy and tax evasion.

The U.S. adopted the Magnitsky Act in 2012, imposing travel bans and sanctions on Russian officials seen as involved in the lawyer's death.

Browder earlier wrote on Twitter that he had been detained in Spain on a Russian Interpol arrest warrant. "They won't tell me which station".

Browder, who gave up his US citizenship in 1998, was named in a "diffusion notice" by the Russian government in October which allows a country to temporarily bypass Interpol headquarters and notify a country that another country is seeking the arrest of a specific person.

One of Vladimir Putin's most vocal critics was briefly arrested in Spain on Wednesday morning after years on the run from the Russian government - but nobody wants to claim responsibility for doing it.

In October, Interpol rejected Russia's request to arrest Browder, telling member states to ignore an attempt by Moscow to pursue the fund manager through the organization.

Browder was detained by Spanish police Wednesday on a Russian warrant, which authorities later said had expired. "He is a British citizen and we will establish the full facts ASAP".

Fair Trials, a global criminal justice watchdog, said the confusion over Browder's arrest highlighted the serious problems with Interpol's system of global "wanted person" alerts. But that all changed in 2005 when he was expelled from the country after being deemed a threat to national security.

Mr. Browder's lobbying took on a force in 2009, when Sergei L. Magnitsky, a tax lawyer for his company, Hermitage Capital, died in a Moscow prison, where he had been held for more than a year.

Interpol had previously refused to enforce a 2013 warrant for the investor, deeming it "predominantly political in nature".

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said he spoke to Mr Browder and was "very glad that he has now been released".

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