Spain releases Putin critic following Interpol petition
Bill Browder was arrested in Madrid on Wednesday morning
Bill Browder, one of Vladimir Putin’s most outstanding critics, was arrested in Madrid on Wednesday morning following an arrest warrant from Russia and subsequently released after Interpol intervened to demand Spanish authorities to let him go free.
Browder wrote on Twitter at 9:36 am that he was being driven to a police station. According to the arrest warrant, Browder is accused of fraud. Two hours later, he announced his release, which came about after the Interpol general secretary in Lyon told Spain not to honour Russia’s red notice—an arrest order used to seek the extradition of wanted persons.
Good news. Spanish National Police just released me after Interpol General Secretary in Lyon advised them not to honor the new Russian Interpol Red Notice. This is the 6th time that Russia has abused Interpol in my case pic.twitter.com/ZonzXizvIJ— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) May 30, 2018
One of Browder’s employees, Sergei Magnitsky, died in 2009 after almost a year in police custody. An anti-corruption lawyer, he was imprisoned under charges that have been put into question and allegedly was the victim of torture by Russian officials. Browder has repeatedly demanded they be held responsible.
As the head of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund, Browder was once the main foreign investor in Russia. He's also the author of 'Red notice: how I became Putin's no.1 enemy.'
In recent months, Spain has played a central role in several extradition cases deemed as politically motivated, such as those of whistleblower Hervé Falciani, wanted in Switzerland for exposing wrongdoing at HSBC bank, and Turkish journalist Hamza Yalçin, accused of terrorism and insulting president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.
Spain has also issued several European Arrest Warrants for Catalan pro-independence leaders seeking refuge from persecution in other European countries, including deposed president Carles Puigdemont in Germany.
Two weeks ago, Belgium rejected extraditing three deposed Catalan ministers wanted by Spain, alleging "procedural defects" and "irregularities." Spain is also seeking the extradition of a sacked minister in Scotland and a pro-independence party leader in Switzerland.
While the extradition request for Puigdemont is still being considered, a court in the Schleswig-Holstein region has repeatedly put into question whether the crime of violent rebellion applies, as suggested by Spain's Supreme Court.