Rus­sia puts Bri­tish Putin critic on In­ter­pol wanted list

The Guardian Australia - - World News - Mark Townsend

Rus­sia has placed a prom­i­nent Bri­tish busi­ness­man on the In­ter­pol wanted list. Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin is un­der­stood to have sanc­tioned the move against Bill Brow­der, who has led an in­ter­na­tional cam­paign against Rus­sia over the killing of the jailed Moscow lawyer, Sergei Mag­nit­sky.

On Wed­nes­day Canada be­came the lat­est coun­try to pass a “Mag­nit­sky Act”, tar­get­ing of­fi­cials “who have com­mit­ted gross vi­o­la­tions” of hu­man rights. The move in­fu­ri­ated Putin, who ac­cused Canada of play­ing “un­con­struc­tive po­lit­i­cal games” and later name-checked Brow­der for pur­su­ing what the Rus­sian pres­i­dent de­scribed as “il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity”.

On Satur­day it emerged that Rus­sia had placed the US-born Bri­tish cit­i­zen on In­ter­pol’s list, ex­ploit­ing a loop­hole that lets coun­tries uni­lat­er­ally place in­di­vid­u­als on its database used to re­quest an ar­rest. Brow­der said he was alerted to the move by an email from the US depart­ment of homeland se­cu­rity, stat­ing his “global en­try sta­tus” had been re­voked. Fur­ther calls con­firmed he had been added to In­ter­pol’s list via an ar­rest de­mand, known as a “diffusion”.

Moscow has a habit of us­ing In­ter­pol against its en­e­mies and has pre­vi­ously used the global po­lice or­gan­i­sa­tion to pur­sue what many west­ern gov­ern­ments view as a ven­detta against Brow­der. Putin tried three times be­tween 2012 and 2015 to get In­ter­pol to is­sue ar­rest orders against Brow­der, but failed to con­vince the or­gan­i­sa­tion that it did not have po­lit­i­cal mo­tives.

The Coun­cil of Europe last year crit­i­cised Rus­sian at­tempts to seek Brow­der’s ar­rest through In­ter­pol, call­ing the ef­forts “abuses” of the sys­tem.

“Putin is so rat­tled by the spreading Mag­nit­sky sanc­tions around the world that he’s ready to run roughshod over all rules and west­ern norms,” Brow­der told the Ob­server. He has been bat­tling the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment for over a decade, al­leg­ing that Rus­sian law en­force­ment stole £174m, which his com­pany had paid in taxes. Mag­nit­sky died in Rus­sian cus­tody in 2009 amid al­le­ga­tions he had been tor­tured af­ter un­cov­er­ing a huge fraud that im­pli­cated gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. His death prompted Brow­der to work with the US Congress to pass the Mag­nit­sky Act, which levied tar­geted sanc­tions against pow­er­ful play­ers in Rus­sia.

Based in France and in­volv­ing 190 coun­tries, In­ter­pol de­scribes its pur­pose as en­abling “po­lice around the world to work to­gether to make the world a safer place’.”

Bill Brow­der, US-born Bri­tish busi­ness­man and critic of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. Pho­to­graph: Gra­ham Turner for the Guardian

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.