In the face of Russia's continuing attack on Ukraine, Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb., is calling for Russia to be removed from Interpol, an international agency that helps coordinate law enforcement in 195 countries.
Although the Biden administration has echoed other Western allies in pressing for Russia's suspension from Interpol, the agency has not denied Moscow access to its databases, due to its stated commitment to "neutrality," National Review reports.
It has pledged instead to apply "heightened supervision and monitoring measures in relation to Russia."
In a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, obtained by National Review, Sasse called Interpol's pledge "a small step in the right direction," but criticized it as inadequate to "to protect Interpol against potential abuses by the Russian government or to ensure that Russia does not exploit Interpol's intelligence-sharing function to further harm the people of Ukraine."
Sasse goes on to say that Russia and China have reportedly used the agency to target domestic political opponents.
According to The Atlantic, Interpol was used against financier and Putin critic Bill Browder six separate times as of 2018.
China's abuse of the agency has led to "prolonged detention and arbitrary arrest … of activists and persecuted ethnic or religious minorities abroad," as well as "harassment and intimidation of political dissidents," according to a Safeguard Defenders report published last November.
The "improper use of Interpol notices" has also caused "fugitives" to return "voluntarily," the report said.
In his letter, Sasse also asks Garland and Blinken what specific steps they have taken to deliver on "the Attorney General's call to remove Russia from Interpol," what steps "the DOJ and State have taken to substantiate the security and safety concerns that Russia poses by its participation in Interpol," and whether the Biden administration has been coordinating with the other "Five Eyes" members to remove Russia.
The Five Eyes are the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and they have shared much of the intelligence they gather for the past 75 years through the alliance, according to The New York Times.
Sasse requested a response within 21 days, National Review reports.
"Now is the time for freedom-loving countries committed to the rule of law to act and ensure Vladimir Putin no longer has a voice, vote, and influence in international law enforcement organizations," the senator said.
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