PETALING JAYA: Sarawak Report editor Clare Rewcastle-Brown fears she will be arrested on behalf of the Malaysian government if she travels to Spain on Monday to care for her elderly father.
Rewcastle-Brown, former British prime minister Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law, claims that she is at risk of being jailed for exposing corruption in Malaysia, with her supporters criticising Interpol for failing to guarantee her freedom.
She told The Telegraph in London that she has not sought to enlist her brother-in-law’s help because she does “not want to worry” him.
The report said Spain has become a favourite target in recent years for authoritarian regimes seeking to use Interpol’s Red Notice system to snare political opponents.
In 2018, Bill Browder, the prominent Kremlin critic, was detained by Spanish police on an international arrest warrant that Russia had requested through Interpol.
“Once such a notice is issued, individuals face a real risk of extradition and, even if not, often months of detention and legal wrangling in order to get themselves freed.
“Malaysia has once before, in 2015, applied to Interpol for a Red Notice to detain Rewcastle-Brown, which was rejected,” the report said.
The daily said last night that the international law enforcement body had refused to rule out doing so again if another request is made while the journalist is in Spain, despite calls against it by a coalition of free speech organisations led by the Coalition on Censorship and Fair Trials.
“I am concerned that the same actors who tried to abuse Interpol by having me arrested as a terrorist in 2015 will, having returned to power, attempt to file another Interpol Red Notice alert with the aim of having me detained anywhere in the world,” Rewcastle-Brown said.
“They are seeking to paint me as a criminal for exposing their corrupt practices, which is my job as a journalist, and they are using a claim of criminal libel, which is simply not a crime that exists in the UK or most democratic countries where the freedom of journalists to report on the politically powerful is rightly protected,” she told the newspaper.
She said she could be thrown into jail at a border by officials who have no idea about the background to this case or the spurious nature of these charges and then face months of legal action fighting extradition charges to get back to Britain.
Travel to Spain can carry additional risks beyond the country’s alleged willingness to act on spurious international warrants, as it is one of the few places in the Western world that has a criminal libel law, said the daily.
“It means that Malaysia could potentially seek Rewcastle-Brown’s extradition even without going through Interpol.”