Human rights activist Bill Browder was one big reason why the U.S. passed the Magnitsky Act, a law that froze assets of various Russian officials, including those close to Vladimir Putin, after his accountant, Sergei Magnitsky, died under suspicious circumstances in a Moscow prison. With the public more aware of the Magnitsky Act’s existence following Donald Trump Jr.’s Trump Tower meeting with several Russians during the 2016 campaign, it’s curious timing for the State Department to revoke the visa of Browder, a British citizen, the same day that Russia issued an arrest warrant for him through Interpol.
Russia has issued warrants against Browder before, using a loophole in Interpol’s system to circulate politically motivated warrants that remain in member state’s databases even if they are flagged by Interpol. Russia has accused Browder of a number of crimes (including tax evasion) in recent years in order to discredit him but recently added a new charge. Russian prosecutors are now arguing that it was actually Browder, formerly the largest private foreign investor in Russia, who killed Magnitsky.
Michael McFaul, the former ambassador to Russia, took to Twitter and asked that Browder’s visa be reinstated. “This is outrageous,” he wrote. “@realDonaldTrump, @StateDept et al, fix this now. Now. Do not join Putin’s campaign against @Billbrowder.”