June 19, 2014
The Russian government has again targeted William Browder, leader of the global Magnitsky justice campaign, through Interpol, an international police organisation. This is Russia’s third attempt to involve Interpol in its political attack on Mr Browder, who has angered the Russian authorities with his criticism of corruption and human rights violations under the Putin regime.
This morning, the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office announced that it has succeeded in its goal of making Interpol’s data protection commission, known as the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files, to consider the third Russian request seeking to search for William Browder via Interpol channels. Previous requests were denied by both the Interpol Commission and by Interpol’s General Secretariat on the grounds of their “predominantly political nature” and being contrary to Interpol’s Constitution and rules, which prohibit targeting political opponents through police cooperation.
In a statement, the Russian General Prosecutor’s Office said this morning:
“Thanks to the actions of the General Prosecutor’s Office of the Russian Federation, the Commission for Control of Interpol’s Files will reconsider the matter of the international search for William Browder.” http://www.genproc.gov.ru/smi/news/genproc/news-202876/The announcement further explained that the Russian Prosecutor’s Office has achieved its goal of targeting Mr Browder at Interpol by “holding meetings with Interpol’s leadership and heads of departments”, and taking part in the Interpol Commission’s meeting in January 2014 with a “reasoned report on the validity of criminal prosecution” of Mr Browder.
Mr Browder, who resides in England, has been targeted by the Russian authorities with retaliatory and spurious criminal proceedings in Russia for a number of years. The attack on him by the Russian government escalated after the adoption in December 2012 of the U.S. ‘Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act’, which imposes targeted visa and financial sanctions on Russian officials and others involved in Magnitsky’s ill-treatment and death in police custody, and the subsequent cover up of those crimes.
Since the passage of the Magnitsky law in the United States, the Russian government has responded in a hostile manner, by convicting Mr Browder in absentia and Mr Magnitsky posthumously in the first ever posthumous trial in Russian legal history, which was held beyond the statute of limitations.The judge who presided over the posthumous trial was put on the sanctions list by the U.S. Government, and at the same time promoted by President Putin. Russian authorities have also opened a new criminal case in which Mr Browder is alleged to have harmed Russia’s “national economic security,” through his shareholder activism twelve years ago at Kremlin-controlled Gazprom, Russia’s gas monopoly.
No comment from Interpol’s Commission on the Russian Prosecutor’s Office announcement is available yet.