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In the past few days, the Brazilian Justice issued an arrest warrant against a Brazilian national who also holds a German citizenship. He was supposedly in the US when that happened and there was a concern that he might fly to Germany where he was not likely to be extradited. Therefore, he was included in Interpol's Red Notice List.

One or two days after that, he went to the press and said he was coming back to Brazil, which he really did. Reporters where trying to interview him in the airport and strangely (at least to me), he was able to board the flight without problems, just like there was nothing against him.

Shouldn't his name appear as a fugitive when they checked his passport? Or, in this particular case, he was allowed to board because the flight was heading to the country that issued the warrant against him?

TL;DR;

Is someone in Interpol's Red Notice List allowed to board an international flight, back to the country that issued the warrant against him? Is the boarding normal just like any other one, without any special treatment, policeman going with him, nothing like that?

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There's not any well-defined notion of what a person with a Red Notice is "allowed" to do. The notice doesn't have any legal force of its own.

You can read more about Red Notices on Interpol's web site:

INTERPOL cannot compel any member country to arrest an individual who is the subject of a Red Notice. Each member country decides for itself what legal value to give a Red Notice within their borders.

So it would be up to the US authorities to decide what, if anything, to do about the Red Notice, in compliance with US law. We can only speculate as to why they declined to flag his passport and/or detain him. Without knowing anything about the specific case in question, here are some possibilities:

  • They may have felt there wasn't sufficient evidence against him to justify detaining him.

  • The conduct of which he was accused may not have been a crime under US law.

  • They may have believed the Brazilian arrest warrant was primarily politically motivated.

  • They may have wanted to annoy the Brazilian government, or make a political statement against its actions, by failing to cooperate.

  • They may have decided that it simply wasn't a good use of their funds to pursue the case.

  • They may have been lazy or incompetent or oblivious and simply not known where he was or what he was planning to do.

The fact that he was intending to travel to Brazil voluntarily may or may not have been a factor in their inaction.

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  • Interpol's site also mentions as one of items under Why is the Red Notice important?: Criminals and suspects are flagged to border officials, making travel difficult (words in bold are from the site, and NOT included by me). BTW, the specific case I mention is this – gmauch Feb 1 '17 at 15:53
  • I would read that as "making it difficult to travel without being noticed by national authorities". But if those authorities choose not to do anything, travel isn't actually more difficult. – Nate Eldredge Feb 1 '17 at 16:18

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