Spanish police said Wednesday they had released William Browder, a British financier turned anti-Kremlin crusader, after detaining him briefly on an Interpol Russian warrant they later found out had expired.
"An arrest warrant has a date limit and when that expires, it must be deleted from the computer programme and in this case Interpol hadn't deleted it. Once in the police station, they realised it wasn't valid," a police spokesman told AFP.
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
Earlier Browder, who has previously said he fears for his life, alerted the world to his arrest after tweeting from the back of a Spanish police car on Wednesday morning.
Urgent: Just was arrested by Spanish police in Madrid on a Russian Interpol arrest warrant. Going to the police station right now.— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) May 30, 2018
In the back of the Spanish police car going to the station on the Russian arrest warrant. They won’t tell me which station pic.twitter.com/Xwj27xC7Zd— Bill Browder (@Billbrowder) May 30, 2018
He later tweeted a photo of the arrest warrant:
Bowder is the author of Red Notice, which alleges deep-rooted state-sponsored corruption in Russia. He has also campaigned for sanctions against Russia after Sergei Magnitsky, a former employee died in a Russian prison.
Magnitsky went public with details of massive fraud by Russian state officials before being charged with tax evasion and later dying in detention after spending 11 months in squalid prisons in 2009.
A Moscow court in December sentenced Browder in absentia to nine years in a penal colony after convicting him of deliberate bankruptcy.
His campaign for Magnitsky has had strong resonance worldwide.
In 2012, the US passed the "Sergei Magnitsky Act" which imposed a visa ban and froze the assets of Russian officials implicated in the lawyer's death.
The act became a symbol of prison abuses in Russia and strained ties with Washington.
Then earlier this month, British lawmakers backed a measure to impose sanctions against people guilty of human rights violations in memory of Magnitsky..
Earlier this year the US-born, London based hedge-fund manager told MPs: “What the Russians would like to do more than anything is arrest me and get me back to Russia and then kill me in the control of their own system."
And he added: “I’m at risk, at high risk. I don’t spend my life living in fear, but I am definitely at risk.”
UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson tweeted:
Just spoken to Bill Browder – very glad that he has now been released. Moscow should concentrate on bringing those responsible for the murder of #Magnitsky to justice— Boris Johnson (@BorisJohnson) May 30, 2018