Interpol’s Red Notice

January 5, 2011

Douglas McNabb discusses Interpol’s use of the Red Notice and its inter-relationship with International Extradition.

One of Interpol’s most important functions is to help the member countries’ law enforcement organizations communicate with each other about critical crime-related information. An Interpol International Notice is used to help achieve that goal. Based on a request made by the requesting country’s National Central Bureau (NCB), Interpol produces one of seven types of notices in all four of its official languages – English, French, Spanish and Arabic. The notice is circulated worldwide.

1. Red Notice (“International Wanted Notice”)

The legal basis for a Red Notice is the arrest warrant (issued for a person wanted for prosecution) or a court order (issued for a person wanted to serve a sentence) issued by judicial authorities in the concerned country. The notice contains identification information about the subject person such as physical description, photographs and fingerprints if available, occupation, languages spoken and identity documents. The notice may also contain judicial information such as offense with which the person is charged, references to the relevant laws under which the charge is made or conviction was obtained, the maximum penalty that has been or can be imposed, the references of the arrest or of the sentence imposed by the court, and details of the countries from which the requesting country will seek the fugitive’s extradition.

Many of Interpol’s member countries consider a Red Notice as a valid request for provisional arrest. This is particularly true if the requesting country and requested country have a bilateral or multilateral extradition treaty or convention in force with each other. It is even more so if the treaty or convention allows for the use of Interpol channels to forward such requests.

If a Red Notice is considered to be a valid request for a provisional arrest, the appropriate judicial authority in the requested country can make the decision, based on the information in the notice, to have the person provisionally arrested. Subsequent to the arrest, the requesting country is notified of the person’s detention and the formal extradition process can begin.

In the United States, based on the notice alone, federal law prohibits the arrest of the subject of the Red Notice. If the subject is found within the United States, the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, will make a determination if a valid extradition treaty exists between the U.S. and the requesting country for the specified crime or crimes. If the subject is extraditable, and after a diplomatic request for a provisional arrest is received from the requesting country, the facts are communicated to the U.S. Attorney’s Office where the person is located. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will then file a Criminal Complaint and obtain an arrest warrant requesting extradition. If the United States is the requesting country the Red Notice is generated by the US – NCB in coordination with the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. The notice will request that the subject be provisionally arrested. The Notice is sent to all 188 Interpol member countries, and is posted at all U.S. border ports of entry. The notice data is also entered into the National Crime Information Center (NCIC). It should be noted that Interpol has the authority to refuse to issue a Red Notice when it is not satisfied that the notice contains all the information needed to formulate a valid request for a provisional arrest. Additionally, a Red Notice may not be issued if Interpol concludes that the request is based on activity of a political, military, religious or racial character.

2. Blue Notice (“International Request for Information Notice”)

This notice is primarily used for tracing and locating a person when the decision to extradite has not yet been made. It may also be used to verify a person’s identity, to obtain particulars about his criminal record or to locate witnesses to criminal activity.

3. Green Notice (“International Alert Notice”)

This notice is used to provide warnings and criminal intelligence about persons who have committed criminal offenses, and are likely to repeat these crimes in other countries.

4. Yellow Notice (“International Missing Person Notice”)

This notice is used to help locate missing persons, including children, or to help identify persons who may not be able to identify themselves such as a person suffering from amnesia.

5. Black Notice (“International Unidentified Dead Body Notice”)

This notice is used to seek the identity of deceased persons.

6. Orange Notice (“Warning Notice”)

This notice is issued to warn police, public entities and other international organizations about potential threats from disguised weapons, parcel bombs and other dangerous materials.

7. Interpol- United Nations Special Notice

This notice is issued for groups and individuals who are the targets of UN sanctions against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at or at one of the offices listed above.

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WikiLeaks Founder Faces Possible Extradition

December 2, 2010

British police asked Swedish authorities Thursday for additional details not specified in an initial arrest warrant for Julian Assange, a possible indication that the location of the elusive founder of WikiLeaks is known.

The fact that British police are seeking more information probably means there is a procedural problem preventing them from arresting Assange. The additional details could provide them with a valid warrant.

It is likely that British police either know where he is or they have been watching him. However, there are definitely legal restraints holding them back from an arrest.

Assange is wanted in Sweden for sex-crime allegations that are not related to WikiLeaks. Meanwhile, the website continued publishing confidential diplomatic information that has been stirring up all corners of the world.

Assange, who has said he has long feared retribution for his website’s disclosures, has denied the sex-crime allegations, calling them a smear campaign.

Despite the warrant and an Interpol red notice, akin to an all-points bulletin, Assange has so far eluded arrest, making him one of the world’s most wanted fugitives.

Assange has not been seen in public since the Stockholm Criminal Court issued an international arrest warrant on November 18, 2010. Officials say Assange is suspected of rape, sexual molestation and illegal use of force.

There are conflicting reports on whether Assange is currently in Britain or elsewhere. Swedish authorities claim they are unaware of his whereabouts, which prompted the request to Interpol.

The Swedish Prosecution Authority said it would send additional information to British police that would lay out the allegations of sexual molestation and illegal use of force — in addition to the accusation of rape that was already in the warrant — and the potential penalties attached to each alleged crime.

Assange, meanwhile lost a legal bid in the Swedish Supreme Court, which refused Thursday to hear an appeal of an arrest warrant for suspicion of rape and sexual molestation. Previously, the Swedish Court of Appeal had rejected Assange’s appeal.

At Sweden’s request, Interpol has issued an international wanted-persons alert for Assange to its 188 member countries. The red notice is not an arrest warrant, but an advisory and request for countries to locate a person with a view toward that person’s arrest and extradition. He would most certainly face extradition to Sweden if he is arrested, but he would have the right to appeal it.

A U.S. warrant for Assange over the WikiLeaks postings could further complicate this case. Specifically, the United States could pursue a case against Assange to silence the WikiLeaks site. Further, it is definitely possible for Assange to drag this out for years, and who’s to say that if Assange is arrested, publications on WikiLeaks will cease?

The most important question remains: Where is Assange?

For a complete reading of the CNN article, please click here.

Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.

The author of this blog is Douglas McNabb. Please feel free to contact him directly at or at one of the offices listed above.

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