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Interpol rejects Iran’s request to arrest Trump for Soleimani strike

ICPO-Interpol Headquarters in Lyon, France (Massimiliano Mariani, Wikimedia Commons/Released)
June 30, 2020

The International Criminal Police Organisation, known as Interpol, has rejected Iran’s request for the agency to assist in arresting President Donald Trump.

On Monday, Iran issued arrest warrants for 36 individuals linked to the January strike that killed Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, including Trump. Iran requested an Interpol red alert or red notice be issued for Trump’s arrest, but in a statement shared with CNBC Monday, the France-based international agency rejected the request.

“Under Article 3 of INTERPOL’s constitution ‘it is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character,'” the Interpol statement said. “Therefore, if or when any such requests were to be sent to the General Secretariat, in accordance with the provisions of our constitution and rules, INTERPOL would not consider requests of this nature.”

Even if Interpol had accepted Iran’s request to issue a red alert, a U.S. Department of Justice FAQ page regarding Interpol has indicated the agency’s arrest requests alone are not always sufficient to approve an arrest.

“Once published by INTERPOL, each member country determines what effect to give a Notice within its jurisdiction according to its national law and practice,” the DOJ page states. “The United States does not consider a Red Notice alone to be a sufficient basis for the arrest of a subject because it does not meet the requirements for arrest under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution.”

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In comments reported by CNBC, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook called Iran’s announcement of charges as a “propaganda stunt that no-one takes seriously.” Hook said Iran’s charges are “political” and have “nothing to do with national security.”

In his initial Monday announcement, Iranian Prosecutor-General of Tehran Ali Alqasi Mehr said he was levying terrorism and murder charges against Trump and the other 35 individuals “including the political and military officials of the US and other governments.”

Trump ordered a Jan. 3 drone strike that targeted Soleimani while he was traveling in Baghdad, Iraq. Soleimani was with two members of the Iraqi militia organization, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), at the time of the strike.

Demonstrators carrying PMF flags and flags of other affiliated Iraqi militia groups with pro-Iranian ties were observed attempting to storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad days before the strike that killed Soleimani and Trump has alleged Soleimani was plotting further attacks and to even “blow up” the U.S. diplomatic compound.

“We took him out. We did it because they were looking to blow up our embassy,” Trump said. “I think it was obvious. And he had more than that particular embassy in mind.”

Trump has maintained that he had lawful authority to carry out the strike.

Iran has tried various other efforts to retaliate against the U.S. for the strike on Soleimani. In the days following the strike on Soleimani, Iran’s parliament passed a measure to designate the entire U.S. military and Pentagon as terrorist organizations. Later that same month, an Iranian Judiciary spokesman also indicated plans to sue Trump and the U.S. military at The Hague International Criminal Court of Justice.