Interpol issues red notice for US woman over death of UK teen
The diplomatic headache ramps up as the US refuses to extradite the diplomat’s wife to the UK
London — Interpol has issued a red notice for the provisional arrest of a US diplomat’s wife charged over a car crash in Britain that killed a teenager, his family has said.
Harry Dunn, 19, died in August when his motorcycle collided with a car driving on the wrong side of the road near an air force base in England that is used by the US military as a communications hub.
The car was driven by Anne Sacoolas, who then returned to the US despite a police investigation, which saw her charged with causing death by dangerous driving.
Sacoolas, whose husband was an intelligence official and has herself been reported to have been a CIA operative, has since claimed she had diplomatic immunity from prosecution.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo has rejected Britain’s extradition request and the case has strained the normally close relations between the two countries.
“I can confirm that Interpol have circulated a red notice in respect of #AnneSacoolas,” Radd Seiger, spokesperson for Dunn’s family, said on Twitter late Monday. “Police forces around the world are requested to locate her and provisionally arrest her with a view to her extradition to the UK.”
British police issued the request to Interpol that she be apprehended if she tries to leave the US, with a view to her eventual extradition.
A red notice is not an international arrest warrant, but is issued for those wanted for prosecution or sentencing.
Dunn’s mother Charlotte told ITV television the news gave her “confidence that ... the UK authorities are clearly on the same page as us. It was a very emotional afternoon yesterday. We didn’t really expect it. Many, many tears”.
Dunn’s parents visited the White House in October to meet US President Donald Trump. They said he was warm and welcoming but criticised White House attempts to engineer a snap meeting with Sacoolas, who was in a room next door with photographers.
A US state department spokesperson said in a statement to AFP that it had rejected the extradition request, saying Sacoolas had immunity from criminal jurisdiction, and that Pompeo’s decision was final.
“If the US had granted the UK’s extradition request, it would have rendered the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity and would have set an extraordinarily troubling precedent.”
The spokesperson added that Washington and London have a “history of close law enforcement co-operation” and was engaged with the UK over this incident.
The case has been a political headache for Prime Minister Boris Johnson as he tries to secure a US trade deal after Britain’s departure from the EU. Johnson’s spokesperson told reporters the decision to request an Interpol red notice would not come from the government.
He said the foreign office maintained that Sacoolas had diplomatic immunity while she was in Britain, but she lost this after leaving the country.
“Any Interpol notice being serviced now would have no relation to Anne Sacoolas’s diplomatic immunity while in the UK,” the spokesperson said, adding that the US refusal to extradite her “amounts to a denial of justice” and that she should return, noting Johnson had “raised the case with Preident Trump on a number of occasions”.
Trump has called the crash a “terrible accident”, saying it was common for Americans in Britain to have difficulty driving on the left side of the road.