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Helsinki Commission calls on Biden administration to push for Russia’s expulsion from Interpol

CNNPriscilla Alvarez

An independent US government agency is calling on the Biden administration to push for Russia to be permanently expelled from Interpol — a step further than the suspension the administration has already sought — citing the invasion of Ukraine and previous abuses by Russia, according to a letter obtained by CNN.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland joined justice ministers from several allied countries to demand that Interpol immediately suspend Russia from accessing its systems, according to Justice Department spokesperson Anthony Coley.  

Interpol, the International Criminal Police Organization, is a global agency which facilitates police across its 195 member countries to collaborate on criminal investigations. Interpol issues what are known as Red Notices to request the location and arrest of an individual pending their extradition.

Friday’s letter from the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe commended the steps the US has taken so far, but added that the administration should call for the permanent suspension of Russia.

“We urge you to use the U.S. position in Interpol (and in particular Interpol’s Executive Committee and its Advisory Group on Financial Matters) to make it clear that any failure to act against Russia’s abuse of lnterpol will have grave consequences for the U.S. contribution to Interpol’s budget and Interpol’s legal immunities in the United States,” the letter, directed to Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, reads.

The commission — also known as the US Helsinki Commission — was created by Congress in 1976 with a focus on human rights, military security, and economic cooperation. It is led by Sen. Ben Cardin and Rep. Steve Cohen.

If Russia is suspended from Interpol, it would bar the country from continuing to participate and therefore put in requests for Red Notices, but it would not remove Red Notices that are already in the system, said Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation and an expert in Interpol.

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