Putin critic Bill Browder released after arrest in Madrid

The anti-corruption campaigner wrote on Twitter that he was taken into custody in Madrid

Bill Browder is a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin
Bill Browder is a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin

Bill Browder, a prominent critic of Vladimir Putin was shortly detained in Spain under a Russian warrant.

The anti-corruption campaigner wrote on Twitter that he was taken into custody in Madrid, and shortly afterwards released, after the Interpol general secretary in Lyon advised them not to honour the Russian arrest warrant.

He said it was the sixth time Russia had “abused” Interpol in his case. In 2016, the Council of Europe criticised Russia’s attempts to seek Browder’s arrest through Interpol, calling the efforts “abuses” of the system.

Spanish police confirmed that Browder was detained and taken to a police station to check on an Interpol arrest warrant, adding that he was released as the warrant was no longer valid.

As head of the Hermitage Capital Management investment fund, Browder led a campaign to expose corruption and punish Russian officials he blames for the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, whom he employed as a lawyer.

Magnitsky was imprisoned on charges widely considered to be false, and died amid claims he was tortured.

His death prompted Browder, once the largest foreign portfolio investor in Russia, to work with the US Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act, which levied targeted sanctions against powerful players in Russia and has infuriated Putin.

The Magnitsky Act returned to the headlines in 2017 after it emerged that a lawyer supporting the Russian government’s position had met senior figures in Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign, including Trump’s son and son-in-law.

Browder said the reason he was in Madrid was to give evidence to the senior Spanish anti-Russian mafia prosecutor Jose Grinda about what he described as the “huge amount of money from the Magnitsky case that flowed to Spain”.

The UK Home Office did not immediately comment on the detention of Browder, who is a UK citizen, but Boris Johnson, UK Foreign Secretary, 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.

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