Last week, INTERPOL issued a press release confirming that it had modified the Red Notice against Sayed Abdel Latif, and that the modification was made at the request of Egypt’s National Central Bureau (“NCB”) in Cairo.  The stated reason for the modification was that the charges listed in the Red Notice were incorrect, and had apparently been incorrect for over twelve years, despite Egypt’s repeated representations to INTERPOL that the charges were accurate.

Mr. Abdel Latif is in Australia seeking asylum.  He was originally listed as a wanted subject for the crimes of premeditated murder, destruction of property, and possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives without a permit.  The actual charges that remain listed on the Red Notice are membership of an illegally-formed extremist organization and forging travel documents for the organization’s members.  His attorney maintains that even these remaining charges are false.

What is interesting to note is the timing of Egypt’s request for the Red Notice correction.  Mr. Abdel Latif was detained by Australian authorities, and Australian law enforcement officials relied upon the Red Notice in its treatment of Mr. Abdel Latif.  

His case attracted attention when Australian officials expressed dismay that Mr. Abel Latif had been in detention for an extended period of time without his status as a Red Notice subject and “jihadist terrorist” being known to them.  Efforts to understand the possible security lapse led to substantial public discussion about the case.

Advocates who worked on Mr. Abdel Latif’s behalf raised questions as to the validity of the underlying charges listed in the Red Notice, as well as the fact that his conviction was obtained through a trial in absentia.  Egypt’s problematic use of trials in absentia to obtain convictions has raised due process and human rights violation issues, as discussed here previously.  Ultimately, the security concerns raised by Australian officials evolved into questions about the validity of the underlying charges for the Red Notice.  Egypt finally, after twelve years, recognized that the information it had provided to INTERPOL was false.  (The question of whether the remaining charges are politically motivated or otherwise invalid is also subject to speculation, as discussed here.)

While the request for the correction came from Egypt, that request was only made when it became politically impossible for Egypt to do otherwise.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.