Interpol snubs Russia on request to arrest human rights critic William Browder

May 25, 2013

Interpol has refused a request from Russia to put William Browder, a U.S.-born investment banker who has organized a worldwide campaign to punish Russia for human rights abuses, on its arrest list. Browder was a major proponent of the U.S. Magnitsky law, which imposes visa and financial sanctions on Russians deemed to have violated human rights.

The law was passed in honor of Sergei Magnitsky, a lawyer for Browder’s Hermitage Capital Fund, who died in detention in Moscow after he uncovered a $230 million tax fraud, implicated Russian tax and police officers and was charged by them with the crime instead. Russia has accused Browder of involvement in fraud, as well.

In a statement posted on its Web site Friday evening, Interpol said the request to arrest Browder was politically motivated. On Saturday, Browder described the decision as a major humiliation for President Vladimir Putin.

“That an independent police organization would say the entire Magnitsky case is politically motivated is extremely significant,” he said in a telephone interview.

Alexei Pushkov, head of parliament’s international affairs decision, criticized the decision in comments to the Interfax news agency.

“Declaring a case political without a thorough investigation is a political position rather than an investigative body’s position,” he said Saturday.

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