Vladimir Putin Critic; Bill Browder Arrested By Spanish Police On Arrest Warrant Issued By Russia

Bill Browder, a London-based hedge fund manager who has fought a long battle with Moscow, said on Twitter he was arrested in Madrid on Wednesday morning and was headed to a police station “right now”.

A British businessman and outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin was arrested by Spanish police on an Interpol arrest warrant requested by Russia.

“In the back of the Spanish police car going to the station on the Russian arrest warrant,” he wrote. “They won’t tell me which station.”

Spanish police later said the financier had been released as his arrest warrant had expired.

Mr Browder was sentenced to nine years in prison by a Russia court last year, on fraud and tax evasion charges. Interpol refused to enforce a similar arrest warrant in 2013 against the businessman, judging it to be “political in nature”.

In March, Mr Browder told MPs he believed the Russians would like “more than anything” to arrest him and “get me back to Russia and then kill me in the control of their own system”.

The businessman has been one of Russia’s most high-profile public enemies for many years, once being labelled a “serial killer” by Mr Putin himself.

Mr Browder is credited with playing a role in the creation of the Magnitsky Act – a range of sanctions imposed by the US in 2012 on top Russian officials accused of corruption.

The sanctions were named in honour of Mr Browder’s Russian lawyer, Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered a £174m fraud believed to have involved Russian officials against Mr Browder’s investment firm, Hermitage Capital Management.

Mr Magnitsky was imprisoned on what were widely considered to be false charges and died in jail amid claims he was tortured. A Home Office minister called it an “atrocious murder”.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European parliament’s chief Brexit co-ordinator, said: “Worrying that autocratic Russia can get democratic Spain to go after someone fighting to expose Putin’s crimes and those responsible for Magnitsky’s murder.”

“Bill Browder’s rights must be protected,” he added in a tweet messaged to Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

A Spanish national police spokesperson said the arrest could not immediately be confirmed by authorities.

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