INTERPOL’s annual General Assembly of 2022

INTERPOL’s General Assembly is an annual event hosted for INTERPOL’s member countries to discuss and vote on varying global law enforcement issues. The 90th annual General Assembly meeting will be held this year in New Delhi, India, from October 18th to the 22nd. The traditionally 4-day event is always hosted by one of INTERPOL’s member countries. Attending representatives vote on issues to ensure that INTERPOL is meeting the needs of its member countries. The General Assembly is INTERPOL’s supreme governing body and there are either one or several representatives (typically police chiefs and ministry officials) elected from each of INTERPOL’s current 195 member countries. Each country may cast one vote on issues discussed.

The agenda each year includes:

  •  Discussion on the principles and measures needed for INTERPOL to reach its objectives.
  • Election of new members of the Executive Committee, the governing body which provides guidance and direction in between sessions of the Assembly. 
  • Discussion and approval of INTERPOL’s activities and financial plans for the coming year.
  • Observation of current major crime trends and security threats facing the world. 
  • Resolutions which are voted on by member countries. 

 In the next post, we’ll look at the methods that will be used to address issues raised during the 90th GA.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Again this week, there is news that a cryptocurrency entreprenuer is wanted to face criminal charges. In the case of Do Kwon, the co-creator of failed cryptocurrency TerraUSD, South Korean authorities alleged that 280,000 investors lost USD40 billion when his cryptocurrency value crashed. “The crash is also believed to have caused more than $500 billion in losses across the wider crypto market globally,” according to the report.

With numbers like these, the immediate thought is that someone has to pay. And when there is true criminal fraud or deception involved in investment failures,  authorities should seek to prosecute wrongdoers.

But. Businesses and investments related to cryptocurrency have created financial activity the likes of which have not been seen in our publicly traded markets, ever. While cryptocurrency is no longer new, cases related to cryptocurrency in the world’s judicial systems-particularly criminal courts- are fairly new. They often involve allegations of fraud and other financial crimes that fall under the umbrella of money laundering.

With any new phenonmenon, new forms of criminal prosecutions will arise. At its core, deviant human behavior often fits neatly into one of several criminal categories, and financial crime is no exception. Regardless of the vehicle used to accomplish fraud-wire fraud, mail fraud, fraud in the inducement of a contract, etc.- fraud involves deceiving another in order to obtain a gain. That has not changed as cryptocurrency has become a normal part of our financial lives.

Cryptocurrency: a complex fact pattern + different regulatory schemes + high value losses = change the defendant’s treatment

What is different about the criminal charges we are seeing in cases involving cryptocurrency is that jurisdictions don’t always know how -or have not yet agreed on a common scheme- to regulate the financial transactions related to cryptocurrency. Accordingly, a person may be wanted for and detained for a Red Notice even if it eventually will not be honored by INTERPOL’s other member countries.

Another factor is that the government officials charged with prosecuting and adjudicating related allegations do not always understand cryptocurrency. I have seen in my practice that prosecutorial and judicial lack of understanding of cryptocurrency and the business models related it often result in an alarmist reaction when large sums of money are alleged to have gone missing. This reaction can result in orders to allow proceedings to advance in the absence of any clearly stated criminal charges; to hold defendants in pre-trial detention rather than issue bond; and to freeze assets without articulating the requisite grounds.

The challenge for prosecutors and courts

The fact patterns related to cryptocurrency, its mining, blockchain activity and records, and the business models often associated with these cases can be quite complex. The challenge for the prosecution and the courts is to do the thing that is increasingly rare in today’s society: to take the time needed to fully understand the allegations and underlying facts before acting on them, and to decide whether a massive loss is simply an investment gone unfavorably, or the result of a true criminal act.

Otherwise, we will risk innocent people being subject to asset freezing, detention, and prosecution.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


 Egypt’s Red Notice requests for Muslim Brotherhood members- a continuation of Egypt’s past INTERPOL abuses?

As discussed in the first two posts in this series, here and here, members of the banned group the Muslim Brotherhood are being targeted by Egypt’s government using INTERPOL’s Red Notice system. The current government tactics appear to be a continuation of its past actions: Egyptian officials previously arrested tens of thousands of people affiliated with the group in and accused them of cooperating with a terrorist organization. 

Egypt’s use of INTERPOL to attempt to re-capture exiled dissidents

According to the Middle East Eye, since Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current Egyptian president, seized power in a military coup in 2013, a series of cases show Egyptian attempts to extradite exiled dissidents using Interpol’s Red Notice and diffusion alert systems.

The fate of dissidents who stand trial in Egypt

Human rights violations under the current regime in Egypt give cause for concern about the fate of dissidents who are returned to the country to face politically motivated charges. Several years ago, the criminal court in Minya, Egypt sentenced 529 people to death, possibly the largest mass death sentence in recent years anywhere, in a trial lacking basic due process protections. The main trial took under an hour, with the prosecution refusing to give individual trials and the court preventing defense lawyers from calling witnesses or presenting their case. Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch commented, “The Minya court failed to carry out its most fundamental duty to assess the individual guilt of each defendant, violating the most basic fair trial right. These death sentences should be immediately quashed.” Hossam Abdel-Fattah, a urologist based in Qatar was one of the people sentenced. Following his sentence he was imprisoned for two months and forced to remain in India for two years while the case against his extradition was fought.

In yet another case, Elsayed Elezaby, a former engineer, told Middle Eastern Eye that soon after Sisi came to power he was informed of false terrorism charges made against him. He was held for six months in Albania and over a year in Ukraine due to a Red Notice in addition to facing up to 25 years in prison if he returned to Egypt. He went on to say “Interpol should not be supporting Egypt’s terrorist regime. They have to separate the political from the criminal.” 

The danger of INTERPOL’s invovlement with Muslim Brotherhood cases

INTERPOL’s data circulation system does not and cannot possibly detect every politically motivated Red Notice request. Some Red Notices that are invalid do slip through the organization’s screening process, which means that true dissidents can easily become Red Notice subjects. They are often unaware of their status until they attempt to travel and are either turned away, or worse, detained, due to the Red Notice.

This late notice places the Red Notice subjects at a decided disadvantage, should they choose to seek the removal of the notices. Those who dispute an abusive Red Notices or diffusions do not have the right to a hearing prior to its issuance to examine evidence that governments produce against them. This fact can allow ill-intentioned INTERPOL member countries to weaponize INTERPOL for its own political purposes, and to do so effectively if the invalid notice is not detected prior to a subject’s detention

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.




Miami, Florida, U.S.A.- Estlund Law, P.A., has achieved the removal of Red Notices in the case of a client who was being corruptly pursued by a powerful adversary in multiple countries in the Middle East.

The client, a U.S. national, is a former business executive who had a business dispute with a politically connected and influential complaining party. The complaining party filed multiple criminal complaints in several jurisdictions and obtained Red Notices against the client.

The Red Notice requests contained false information and omitted significant relevant factors. Based on one of the Red Notices, and due to the extreme level of political influence the complainant holds, authorities in a Middle Eastern country detained the client for months.

During the client’s detention, the family contacted Estlund Law. Michelle Estlund sought the provisional blocking of the Red Notice because the circumstances of the case showed that the client and his family were in immediate danger. The Commission for the Control of INTERPOL’s Files (“CCF”) agreed and blocked the notice while the case was studied.

The removal request was based upon the political nature of the case, the due process violations that occurred during the investigation and prosecution of the case, and the fact that the matter contained significant political elements. The CCF ultimately agreed that the matter was political in nature and that the clients’ rights had been violated.

The client has been reunited with his family and is settling back into normal life. He is profoundly grateful that the CCF took the time to study this case with careful attention to its many facets.

Attorney Michelle Estlund said, “This case is an example of how a normal, law-abiding, private citizen can be targeted by a well-connected opponent and become involved with INTERPOL. This client and his family worked with us to aid our legal team in preparing a well-documented removal request. We are beyond happy for them and their victory in this case.”

Egypt’s Red Notice requests for Muslim Brotherhood members: political or criminal in nature?

As addressed in the last post, earlier this year, the government of Egypt requested that INTERPOL issue Red Notices against members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Evidence points to these Red Notice requests being political in nature, which explicitly contradicts INTERPOL’s Constitution.

International human rights observervations report political bias in terrorist designation

The Muslim Brotherhood was banned in Egypt after being blamed for a bombing that killed sixteen people even after a separate terrorist organisation took responsibility, causing Human Rights Watch to issue a public statement:

“By rushing to point the finger at the Brotherhood without investigations or evidence, the government seems motivated solely by its desire to crush a major opposition movement.”

Human Rights Watch has estimated that Egypt has imprisoned as many as 60,000 political activists, which Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the current President of Egypt, has denied. 

Rodney Dixon, a defense lawyer for Yousef al-Qaradawi, whose name was removed from INTERPOL’s wanted list after INTERPOL found his charges were “of a political character,told the Middle East Eye that “the political motivations (behind the request for the arrest of Muslim Brotherhood members) were clear through the lack of proper, verifiable evidence presented by the Egyptian authorities.” He also warned that with the clear evidence from many cases of detainees being tortured in order to obtain confessions, individuals extradited to Egypt face the risk of not being given a fair trial. 

Most reputable sources such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Human Rights Watch, say the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organisation, which lends support to the idea that this matter is political in nature.

 As stated by the New York Times, even experts critical of the Brotherhood agree that the organization does not meet the criteria for a terrorist group. “Designating the Muslim Brotherhood a ‘foreign terrorist organization’ would wrongly equate it with violent extremist groups like Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State and make their otherwise lawful activities illegal,” said Laura Pitter, senior US national security counsel at Human Rights Watch, on whether the Brotherhood should be designated a terrorist group in America. Human Rights Watch also stated, “The main branch of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt officially renounced violence in the 1970s and sought to promote its ideas through social and political activities,” again confirming the lack of terroristic tendencies. Furthermore, an extensive government review of the Muslim Brotherhood in the United Kingdom in 2015 found that it “has not been linked to terrorist-related activity in and against the UK.”

INTERPOL’s vulnerability to abusive Red Notice requests

Critics claim that the minimal requirements of INTERPOL to issue a Red Notice do not provide enough evidence to guarantee the crimes are not politically motivated and INTERPOL’s rules contain serious loopholes that allow governments to abuse its channels for political and other unlawful purposes.

A significant quantity of available information appears to counter the Egyptian government’s claims that the Brotherhood is a terrorist organization. Additionally, the Muslim Brotherhood is a clear political threat to those in power. It would seem that the Red Notice requests are improper under INTERPOL’s rules.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

*Special thanks to Sophia Estlund, a contributing guest author in this series.


This summer,  the government of Egypt asked INTERPOL to issue Red Notices on six members of the banned group the Muslim Brotherhood. The accused include figures such as Mahmoud Hussein, the movement’s secretary general until 2020, and strongman in Istanbul. It also includes Medhat Ahmed al-Haddad, former official of the Brotherhood in Turkey, Mohamed Zenati, Assem Mohamed Hussein, Ahmed Yasser and Moaz Abdel Azim. 

The designation as a terrorist group

Egyptian officials banned the group after the Brotherhood blaming the group for a suicide bombing at a police headquarters that killed sixteen people. The government deemed the Brotherhood responsible for the bombing despite another terrorist group called Ansar Bait al-Maqdis claiming responsibility. Deputy Prime Minister Hossam Eissa said that, in response to the bombing, the government decided to classify the organization as a terrorist group. According to The Washington Post, Eissa did not provide evidence that the Brotherhood was involved in the bombing or any other recent attacks on security forces in Egypt.

The underlying charges

The named leaders of the Brotherhood group are  being accused of smuggling funds abroad to finance terrorism. The charges in court contain allegations that the men assumed leadership of a terrorist group and joined the group with knowledge of its purposes.

The political element

These claims of the Muslim Brotherhood being a terrorist group do not appear to be backed by evidence. Evidence instead points to the Brotherhood being a political opposition to those in power. INTERPOL’s Red Notice system allows member states to request that worldwide law enforcement locate and arrest a person, and while criminals have been caught using this system, autocratic regimes have used Red Notices to target dissidents living abroad. Since the military overthrow in July of 2013 of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, Mohamed Morsi, the regime of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has engaged in the systematic repression of the Muslim Brotherhood, of which Morsi is a member.

The Sisi regime was aware of the political threat the Muslim Brotherhood posed, and it began the narration of the Muslim Brotherhood being a terrorist group shortly after Mr. Siss assumed power in 2014. Because of this, tens of thousands of people are facing charges of participating in a banned terrorist organization and more are being detained without a warrant or have been disappeared. 

In the next post, we’ll take a closer look at the international community’s observations on the Muslim Brotherhood.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

*Special thanks to Sophia Estlund, a contributing guest author in this series.


(today’s post is an update of a post earlier this year)

Schedule for the remainder of 2022

The CCF’s April and June/July 2022 sessions have passed, and the Commission’s decisions from the most recent session are being delivered to applicants and their attorneys. If a pending case was not heard during this last session, it may be heard during the remaining session this year, which is listed as follows on INTERPOL’s website:

  • 122th Session of the CCF: 10 to 14 October 2022

In the meantime, we have enough information to make some observations about the Commission’s current workload, timing, and work style.

Response times

This year, for the first time since the 2018 rules were enacted, we have seen a delay in some decisions. Prior to 2018, there was no specific time limit applicable to the Commission’s decisions. Applicants might wait months, and they might wait years for a decision. After the 2018 rules became effective, the Commission routinely honored its required time limit of 9 months to render a decision in a removal request.

However, as with the rest of the world, with COVID came delays. Many cases were addressed on time, and others were decided later than the rules required. It appears that the difference was based on the time that each matter took to resolve.

For cases that were more readily reviewed and decided, such as cases where a notice is invalid because the sentence was served, the subject was apprehended, or some other basic reason, the Commission has been able to deliver timely decisions and information. In cases where the facts or legal issues were more complex, or where member countries have taken more time to deliver their responses, some substantive removal requests are being issued later than they have in recent years. As the world moves toward a normalization of the COVID era and catches up on its backlog, one imagines that the Commission will do the same.

Nature of decisions

In terms of the style of the CCF’s decisions, it is noted that the decisions continue to reflect an in-depth analysis of intricate factual and legal issues. The current members of the Requests Chamber of the Commission include people with significant experience in human rights and data protection, and certain decisions demonstrate a true demand for accountability from not only the applicants but also the NCBs. There have been years where the Commission has accepted less-than detailed or forthcoming responses to its questions posed to NCBs; this does not appear to be one of those years.

Its decisions also increasingly seem to consider not solely the arguments or laws raised by the applicants, but also those with which the Commission is already familiar from other cases wherein comparable issues have been addressed.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

A reader recently wrote in with the following question:

I believe I am being scammed and have had no success finding an e-mail address for Interpol Washington to get their view of the immediate stop order supposedly issued by one of their agents. 

The question contains several elements that need to be answered to fully educate the reader about possible next steps. I’ll address each in turn:

  1. The reader appears to be (or believes he is) a victim of a crime. Crime victims who seek INTERPOL’s involvement must approach local law enforcement officials, who will, in turn, contact their country’s National Central Bureau, which will then determine whether any type of notice should be requested from INTERPOL.
  2. The reader is trying to reach INTERPOL Washington in order to learn about a “stop notice”- likely a Red Notice- that may have been requested by NCB Washington. INTERPOL Washington is the National Central Bureau for the United States, and it acts as a liaison with INTERPOL itself (which is located in Lyon, France).
  3. It is unlikely that the reader will have success in obtaining information from NCB Washington, as it normally communicates with law enforcement agencies rather than civilians.
  4. It is more likely that the reader will need to directly approach the original law enforcement agency that investigated the underlying crime or the prosecuting office that is seeking to prosecute the subject. If that information is unknown, the reader should contact local law enforcement to report a crime, knowing that s/he may be redirected to another agency for investigation. Local law enforcement (the police department, the FBI field office, etc.) will be able to check on whether the matter may be related to an existing Red Notice, diffusion, or other data in INTERPOL’s files.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

One of the primary concerns of most Red Notice subjects is obviously having their names removed from INTERPOL’s wanted list. As that process takes time, it often happens that we also request our clients’ data be blocked in INTERPOL’s databases so that their information is inaccessible while their cases are being studied.

When the CCF’s initial review of a removal request generates a sufficient level of concern that a case may involve violations of its rules, the CCF will block the data (whether it is a Red Notice or diffusion) during the time that it is studying the case. Sometimes the CCF notifies the subject that the data has been blocked, and sometimes it does not acknowledge the blocking until after the case has been resolved.

It has been my experience that blocking frequently precedes removal, but not always.

For example, this week, we received a decision on a client’s request for removal from INTERPOL’s databases. The case  involved multiple member countries, including the U.A.E., and the CCF had blocked the client’s data fairly immediately upon receiving our removal request. Naturally, we were cautiously optomistic that the final decision would continue along the path that the case appeared to be moving. Many months later and after an exhaustive study, the CCF ultimately determined that the case was improper for INTERPOL’s involvement and did remove the Red Notices against my client.

In my experience, in a majority of cases wherein the CCF blocks data initially, a removal decision follows. However, blocking is not a guarantee of removal. When the CCF does block data, it also normally advises the subject that the final decision of the case may result in either a removal of data or allowing the data to remain in place.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.


This is the second part of a two part series.

In the last post, we discussed the fact that INTERPOL’s new president, Ahmed Nasser Al-Raisi, is the subject of multiple human rights violations allegations (these have been raised in the countries named in the post title, above). This post will focus on the possible effects of those allegations on Al-Raisi’s ability to function as INTERPOL’s president.

Relevance of Al-Raisi’s Physical Presence in France

One of the complaints against Al-Raisi was closed without action last year based on a French court’s finding that he neither lived in France nor was he present on its soil, and therefore personal jurisdiction was lacking.

However, after the General Assembly at which he was elected president, Al-Raisi has appeared on French soil as part of his obligation to work at INTERPOL, which is headquartered in Lyon, and the complaint has been re-filed as of this March. The NGO that filed the complaint is the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (“GCHR”); the organization continues to advocate for justice for human rights activist Ahmed Mansoor, whose case is also the subject of a Human Rights Watch campaign. According to GCHR, the most recent complaint led to a meeting with a representative from the Central Office for the Fight against Crimes against Humanity, Genocide and War Crimes (OCLCH).

If the complaint and investigation lead to formal charges, Al-Raisi could be detained, questioned, and tried if he enters France or French territory. Such events would obviously affect his ability to serve as President.

When asked if these criminal allegations undermined INTERPOL’S credibility, INTERPOL’S Secretary-General, Jürgen Stock, responded that  “At this stage, it is an accusation, but of course, we are well aware.” Regardless of the gravity of the criminal allegations, INTERPOL member countries clearly bore in mind the presumption of innocence as demonstrated by Al-Raisi’s election in the 89th INTERPOL General Assembly.

Effect of Possible Conflict of Interest

When the president of a law enforcement support organization is facing criminal charges, the question of a conflict of interest will naturally arise. While some conflicts of interests may concern specific cases, another issue is the larger conflict posed when a person is obliged to both hold member countries accountable for gross human rights violations while simultaneously defending himself from multiple accusations of exactly those actions.

At least with respect to his role on the Executive committee, which INTERPOL’s president heads, there is a process in place that is meant to determine how conflicts of interests should be addressed.

The Executive Committee is the governing body in charge of supervising the execution of the General Assembly’s decisions and the administration and work of the General Secretariat. Members of the Executive Committee are expected to act without self-interest. A conflict of interest in this context is defined as an actual or potential incompatibility between the duties of an Executive Committee member and private, or personal interests. Actual complaints result in immediate recusal of the Committee member unless the Executive Committee grants dispensation. If a conflict of interest is potential rather than actual, the Executive Committee member concerned must seek the advice of the Executive Committee on whether he or she should recuse themselves. Ultimately the Executive Committee may disagree with the member’s decision and vote for recusal.

Thus, without a complaint being filed regarding a conflict of interest, the issue will not be raised in the context of his role on the Executive Committee will not be raised unless Al-Raisi himself seeks the Committee’s advice.

As always, thoughts and comments are welcomed.

*Thanks to Daniela Gomez, B.A. Candidate at Florida International University August 2022, for her contribution to this post.