Red Notice  Law Journal

Red Notice Law Journal

Red Notices, International Extradition, and Perspective

INTERPOL and politically motivated Red Notices in relation to extradition court proceedings

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Politically Based Red Notices

In the last post, I discussed INTERPOL’s refusal to issue certain Red Notices based on INTERPOL’s determination that the Red Notice requests were predominantly political in nature.  INTERPOL’s constitution specifically prohibits the organization’s involvement in matters of a political nature, so even where there is a criminal element to the request, if the overriding element is political, the request will be denied by INTERPOL.

So what happens when INTERPOL recognizes a particular criminal charge as being politically motivated, and refuses to issue a Red Notice, but the accused person finds himself faced with extradition proceedings?  If INTERPOL has characterized a charge as being politically motivated, is a court bound by that finding when it determines extraditability?

When courts hold extradition hearings, the issues before the court are normally quite limited.  The court will likely consider whether dual criminality exists, whether a valid treaty exists and applies, whether any exceptions to the treaty are relevant, and whether there is a basis (be it probable cause or another standard) for the underlying charges.  Most extradition treaties contain an exception for politically based offenses, and if the court finds that a charge fits that exception, it will deny the extradition request.

A court is not bound by INTERPOL’s findings, as noted by INTERPOL in its public statement on the issue:

. . .  INTERPOL may refuse to process a request on the basis of Article 3, but States alone have the sovereign right to determine whether an offence is political (in the context of extradition proceedings for instance).

For example, if the Organization agrees to record a request from a Member State in its database, another Member State is nonetheless completely free to consider that the charges are for political offences. If INTERPOL refuses to record a request which it considers contrary to Article 3, the requesting Member State may forward its request through any channel other than INTERPOL’s.

However, the court is obviously entitled to rely upon INTERPOL’s decision as persuasive authority, just as it could for non-binding judicial decisions or for any other secondary authority.  Because of the fact that most courts have relatively less experience with claims of political motivation than does INTERPOL, it makes sense that they would look to an INTERPOL decision for guidance when making such decisions.  Given that those decisions are usually not published, it would be the responsibility of the attorneys to make the court aware of INTERPOL’s decision her client’s case.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

INTERPOL’s evaluation of recent Russian Red Notice requests- criminal vs. political charges

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Politically Based Red Notices, Red Notice Challenges, Uncategorized

Russia’s requests for Red Notices have been the subject of significant media coverage in the last two years.  Most recently, INTERPOL reportedly refused to issue a Red Notices for Ihor Kolomoisky, who is accused of masterminding murders, using prohibited methods and means of warfare, abduction, and other crimes linked to the armed conflict in the southeastern regions of Ukraine.  He is also allegedly financing the Right Sector, a nationalist party in Ukraine.

Similarly, INTERPOL has refused to issue Russia’s Notice request for businessman William Browder, as discussed here.   In both cases, INTERPOL’s refusal to issue the Notices was reportedly based on their political nature.

However, not every case with a political element is rejected by INTERPOL.  Earlier this year, INTERPOL published a Red Notice in the name of Dimitriy Yarosh.  Yarosh also supports the Right Sector, and the underlying charges for the Red Notice are directly related to his political goal of fighting against the Russian occupation of Ukraine.  Russian authorities allege that he has committed “extremist” and “terrorist” actions  in the course of his political activity.

So why does INTERPOL accept and publish one Red Notice that has political elements, but reject another?  The reason is that Article 3 of INTERPOL’s constitution only prohibits the organization from becoming involved with matters that are predominantly political.  Where an issue has a political component but is predominantly criminal, INTERPOL interprets the issue’s nature to be criminal, and not political for purposes of its involvment.  INTERPOL specifically notes that, as criminal activity and legal matters continue to evolve, analysis of political issues evolves as well, particularly with respect to terrorism charges:

Notably, INTERPOL’s General Assembly concluded that the application of Article 3 does not necessarily prevent the Organization from providing support in the field of counter-terrorism.

It seems clear that accusations of terrorist actions will likely survive a political motivation analysis and will result in a Red Notice being issued when requested by an INTERPOL member country.  Based on the decisions mentioned above, INTERPOL found Kolomoisky’s accusations, which involve violent acts, to be predominantly political.  Yarosh’s accusations, on the other hand, which involve violence and terrorism, were found to be predominantly criminal.

Other crimes, such as financial crimes, are widely known to be the type that are most often used by controlling governmental authorities to discourage opposition and are more likely to be recognized as predominantly politically motivated by INTERPOL.

In the next post, I’ll talk about the relationship between INTERPOL’s determination that a case is politically motivated and an extradition court’s determination of the same issue.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

The effect of Russia’s court system(s) on INTERPOL

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Politically Based Red Notices, Red Notice Challenges

In the last post, I discussed the endemic corruption in Russia’s courts and the need for INTERPOL’s heightened scrutiny of Russia’s Red Notice requests.  Today’s focus is on the reason that some litigants fare much worse than others in Russia’s courts, and how that affects INTERPOL.

While Russians generally seem to agree that basic, low-level civil disputes between similarly-situated litigants are commonly handled in Russian courts with an efficient turnaround time and relatively fair resolutions, disputes between individuals with differing levels of power are another matter entirely.

Last year, Reuters reporter Danielle Wiener-Bronner explained the reason for this distinction in her article, “The Russian legal system’s split personality.”  Complainants in Russia understand that more powerful litigants have both the ability to influence the judiciary and the confidence to litigate in court knowing that their influential efforts are likely to succeed.  The “more powerful litigants” may be wealthy individuals or officials within the Russian government. This influential ability extends to criminal cases as well, as has been addressed in this blog previously here

Recent news from Russia appears to confirm that Russian authorities continue to use the courts for political purposes.  The Wall Street journal reported in June that Russian authorities filed criminal fraud charges against three supporters of opposition candidate Alexei Navalny.  

Criminal charges have also been filed against Gleb Fetisov, a Russian businessman and billionaire.  In a case that echoes many Red Notice cases from Venezuela and Ecuador, financial charges were filed against him after a bank he no longer owns was accused of failing to maintain liquidity in a manner that would allow it to meet its financial obligations. Fesitov has supported opposition party leaders, which is not surprising in Red Notice cases, but is unusual for most wealthy individuals in Russia.  There is reportedly an “unspoken agreement that the rich don’t support the opposition,” and Fesitov supporters believe that his criminal case is a consequence of his political activity.

Another current example of Russia’s request for Red Notices in political-or business-based cases is that of Nikolay Koblyakov. The Telegraph reporter Peter Oborne described the case as follows:

On returning to Russia, [Koblyakov] started a chain of care homes for the elderly which seem to have been both compassionate and profitable. As so often happens in Russia, competitors with the backing of the regime forced him out of business.

Since then, Mr Koblyakov has lived in Paris, where he was a founding member of Russie-Libertés, an NGO that campaigns for Russian democracy. He participated in protests involving Free Pussy Riot, the controversial 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and a demonstration under Ukranian flags outside the National Assembly in Paris on the night of Putin’s D-Day anniversary dinner with President Hollande.

Mr. Koblyakov now faces criminal charges; his extradition hearing in Bulgaria has been continued until October, and his request to leave the country temporarily was denied.

When these types of cases create the basis for Red Notices, INTERPOL is left to sift through the evidence presented by the Red Notice subject and decide whether to hold Russia accountable for its historic and current corruption problem, or whether to turn a blind eye and to trust that Russia is abiding by its obligations as an INTERPOL member country.  Based on the news out of Russia lately, it seems that INTERPOL will have ever-growing opportunities to make those decisions. 

As always, comments and thoughts are welcomed.



Why Russia’s corruption problem is also INTERPOL’s problem

Posted in Member Country Activity, Politically Based Red Notices, Red Notice Challenges

INTERPOL has received improper requests for Red Notices from Russia in the past, and all current indicators point to a worsening of the situation rather than an improvement.

Russia is an INTERPOL member country and is currently ranked 28 on Transparency International’s corruption index.  A score of 28 means that Transparency International has determined that Russia is close to the “highly corrupt” end of the corruption scale, and is more corrupt than 126 other evaluated countries. NGO Freedom House rated Russia’s political rights at a 6 out of 7 (a 7 is the worst on the scale).  Amnesty International has found that,

Despite ongoing attempts to improve the efficiency and independence of the judiciary, alleged political interference, corruption and the collusion of judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials continued to result in frequent reports of unfair trials.

Individuals are not the only victims of corruption in Russia.  Companies are also frequently targeted by Russian officials.  Jens Berthelsen, an anti-corruption specialist who prepares companies for doing business in Russia, was quoted in CNBC’s “Is Russia Too Corrupt for International Business” about the plight of business entities in Russia:

 Companies often face extortion or have court cases brought against them.

Based on the deeply entrenched corruption in Russia’s court and political systems, it would seem that the country would be a great candidate for INTERPOL’s list of problem members.  INTERPOL has recognized in the past that certain of its member countries were abusive (my word) of INTERPOL’s tools.  For example, INTERPOL’s Secretary General visited Venezuela in 2011 and the organization engaged in significant efforts to open “direct channels of communication between Venezuela’s Fiscalia and INTERPOL’s Office of Legal Affairs” (INTERPOL’s words).  Following INTERPOL’s recognition of certain member countries’ abusive INTERPOL activity, it has appeared from the practicioner’s perspective that INTERPOL has viewed Red Notices from those countries with a more skeptical eye than before.

And that may already be the case with Russia.  In terms of high-profile cases, INTERPOL has refused to issue Red Notice requests where issuing the Notices would violate its rules.  Where the cases are less publicized, however, we should expect that INTERPOL will review the Notices only upon the request of the Red Notice subjects and/or their attorneys.

In the next post, I’ll address the issue of Russia’s “two parallel court systems” for run-of-the-mill cases and cases with litigants having extreme power differentials.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

INTERPOL Red Notices and Immigration- Why a Red Notice might cause deportation or inadmissibility even when it does not lead to a criminal arrest

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity

In the last post, I discussed the case of Carmelo Bruzzese, who is wanted by Italian authorities as a Red Notice subject charged with Mafia association.

Although Bruzzese is living openly in Canada, Canadian authorities have never arrested him for the purpose of initiating extradition proceedings due to a lack of dual criminality of the criminal charges.

Even when a Red Notice subject is not extraditable, for whatever reason, the Red Notice still may serve as a catalyst for him or her to be removed from the country through immigration proceedings. In the case of Bruzzese, he has finally been arrested by Canada’s immigration authorities. He is scheduled to appear before the Immigration and Refugee Board for the purpose of determining whether Italy’s criminal charges should form the basis for Bruzzese’s deportation. If he is deported, he will likely be returned to his country of origin.

A Red Notice subject could also be deemed inadmissible to the country he seeks to enter legally. When a person is determined to be inadmissible, he is normally scheduled for removal from the country.

(Bruzzese is one of several alleged men affiliated with the Calabria-based Mafia organization called the ’Ndrangheta.  Its alleged members reportedly have been arrested this year in Italy, Colombia, the Netherlands, and Germany.)

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

INTERPOL Red Notices and Dual Criminality

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity

The case of Carmelo Bruzzese provides an interesting example of why Red Notices do not always lead to arrest and extradition, even where the alleged crime is rather serious by most standards.

The National Post reports here that Canadian police did not arrest Bruzzese, although they knew where he was living and that he was wanted by fellow INTERPOL member country Italy. Bruzzese was the subject of a Red Notice, and the underlying crime charged against him was leading the ‘Ndrangheta, the Mafia organization in the Italian region of Calabria.

 A common requirement in extradition treaties is that of dual criminality, meaning that the crime for which one country seeks the extradition of an individual must also be a crime in the country where the individual is currently located. Without dual criminality, extradition proceedings normally will not occur. In Canada, criminal association charges must also be linked to other, overt acts related to the organized crime. Without additional criminal charges, it appears unlikely that Bruzzese’s alleged association with the ‘Ndrangheta will result in extradition.

However, Red Notice activity and extradition are not the only methods available to INTERPOL member countries for effecting one’s exit from the country. In the next post, I’ll discuss some of the options available to immigration officials when dealing with Red Notice subjects.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Germany’s Juergen Stock slated to become INTERPOL’s Next Secretary General

Posted in INTERPOL's Infrastructure, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Red Notice Challenges

INTERPOL’s current Secretary General, Ronald Noble, will serve in his position until 2015, when his third term as Secretary General ends.  

INTERPOL’s Executive Committee has chosen Juergen Stock as the candidate who is likely to become Noble’s successor.  His background and qualifications are summarized here, on INTERPOL’s website.

The selection process is explained on INTERPOL’s Structure and Governance page:

On 17 June 2014, Juergen Stock of Germany was selected by INTERPOL’s Executive Committee as its candidate to be the Organization’s next Secretary General.

The candidacy of Juergen Stock will be submitted to INTERPOL’s supreme governing body, the General Assembly, for endorsement when it meets in Monaco in November. If endorsed, he will assume office when current Secretary General Ronald K. Noble steps down in 2015.

Once approved, Stock would become the eighth Secretary General of INTERPOL, and the first from Germany.  All of the previous Secretaries General were from member countries Austria, France, the United Kingdom, or the United States. 

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


INTERPOL on Russia’s William Browder Request: No change

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity


As was discussed here last Thursday, Russian officials publicly reported that INTERPOL was considering Russia’s third request to provide assistance in locating and apprehending William Browder.  

INTERPOL has twice rejected Russia’s requests based on the political nature of the case, and it now appears that the third time will not be a charm for Russian authorities.

INTERPOL’s press office responded to Red Notice Law Journal’s inquiry on this subject, stating that

[T]he situation with regards to Mr Browder remains unchanged. As per the previous decisions by both the CCF and the INTERPOL General Secretariat, no information about Mr Browder is contained in INTERPOL’s databases.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


Russia requests that INTERPOL issue a Red Notice for William Browder again

Posted in INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Politically Based Red Notices, Red Notice Challenges

Russia’s preoccupation with obtaining a Red Notice against William Browder continues.  I first addressed this issue here.  For those who haven’t followed the case, William Browder is the chief executive officer and co-founder of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management, and a noted critic of Vladimir Putin.  When his attorney, Sergei Magnitsky, allegedly uncovered and reported a massive tax refund fraud in Russia, Magnitsky was detained and charged with what Browder and others consider to be retaliatory charges. Magnitsky died while he was detained.  

Russian authorities initially circulated a diffusion in Browder’s name, and later sought his location and arrest through INTERPOL’s channels, presumably in the form of a Red Notice.

In May of last year, INTERPOL took the fairly unusual step of issuing a public statement regarding its decision on the diffusion in the Browder case.  It considered the case to be predominantly political in nature.

Russia later made a second request for INTERPOL’s assistance in locating and arresting Mr. Browder based on new charges.  In response, INTERPOL issued a second statement which characterized the “new” charges of “qualified swindling” against Mr. Browder as being covered by its previous decision.  Interestingly enough, INTERPOL’s statement led with the caption:

INTERPOL cannot be used by the Russian Federation to seek the arrest of Mr William Browder

Despite that decision, Russia has now requested for the third time that INTERPOL become involved in the Browder case.  The Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation issued a statement on June 19, 2014, asserting that the Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s files agreed to reconsider the question of the international search for Browder.  Whether that statement is valid remains to be seen.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


INTERPOL’s Red Notices and How the U.S. Government Treats Red Notice Subjects

Posted in Collateral Effects of Red Notices, INTERPOL's Tools and Practices, Member Country Activity, Red Notice Challenges

A lawyer from China recently sent me this question:  

How does American justice system treat a Red Notice? Will the authorities arrest the person right away upon discovering the Notice?

Before addressing the question directly, it is also important to consider the purpose of the question, which is to determine what will happen to a client if they travel abroad and are found to be the subject of a Red Notice.  While detention based on the Red Notice is certainly a possibility, it also must be recognized that non-citizens entering foreign countries are subject to immigration laws as well as criminal and extradition laws.

When an INTERPOL member country decides, for whatever reason, not to engage in the detention and extradition proceedings that can accompany the apprehension of a Red Notice subject, that country may instead rely on its immigration laws to (often more simply and quickly) deal with the subject.

Immigration authorities may take action such as prohibiting entry into the country at the airport or seaport; denying travel authorization prior to travel; or initiating deportation proceedings for the subject.

On the other hand, the member country often does utilize its criminal justice system instead of its immigration system to handle the case of a wanted individual.  In the United States, a Red Notice does not act as an arrest warrant.  Rather, a domestic warrant must be created after the Office of International Affairs determines that the underlying charges justify extradition proceedings.  Only then is a prosecutor assigned to the case to obtain an arrest warrant. If the court enters an order of extraditability, the Department of State makes a final determination of whether to turn the individual over to the requesting country.

If a subject is considered by the U.S. government to be a flight risk, the government may seek the subject’s provisional arrest prior to the issuance of the arrest warrant. Interestingly enough, the government’s Criminal Resource Manual contains a recommendation that prosecutors NOT request provisional arrest of a subject when the subject is not a flight risk, but simultaneously states a policy that it will object to bond in extradition cases as a matter of course:


 Foreign Extradition Requests …

  3.   The government opposes bond in extradition cases.


 Request for Provisional Arrest…

[A formal request for extradition] is favored [over a provisional arrest request] when the defendant is unlikely to flee because the time pressures generated by a request for provisional arrest often result in errors that can damage the case.

It is true that the latter provision addresses requests by the U.S. government to other countries; but it’s still fun to note that the government will always oppose bond in extradition cases, even though it recognizes that certain extradition subjects are unlikely to flee.

A final note:  the common thread to the lawyer’s question, regardless of how the Red Notice subject is treated, is the fact that the Red Notice exists.  If the Red Notice is challenged and removed from INTERPOL’s databases, the Notice itself can no longer form the basis for immigration difficulties or extradition proceedings.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.