THE sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown faces arrest when she arrives in Spain to care for her elderly father on Monday.
Clare Rewcastle Brown is an investigative journalist who in 2015, exposed one of the largest political scandals in modern history.
The case involved embezzlement pertaining to at least $5 billion (£3.6 billion), and the scandal contributed to the 2018 election defeat of Najib Razak and the ruling United Malays National Organisation party.
The party is now back in power and has issued an international arrest warrant for the arrest of Brown, who is accused of libel which carries a two-year prison sentence. She is also accused of sedition, which could result in a 20 year sentence.
The investigative journalist told The Telegraph that she has not sought to enlist the help of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown because she does “not want to worry” him.
She said: “I am concerned that the same actors who tried to abuse Interpol by having me arrested as a terrorist in 2015 will, having returned to power, attempt to file another Interpol Red Notice alert with the aim of having me detained anywhere in the world”.
“I could be thrown into jail at a border by officials who have no idea about the background to this case or the spurious nature of these charges and then face months of legal action fighting extradition charges to get back to Britain.”
The journalist, who is married to Gordon Brown’s younger brother Andrew, edited the Sarawak Report blog which was initially founded to expose corruption relating to environmental issues in Borneo.
The scandal resulted in investment bank Goldman Sachs having to pay $3.1 billion (£2.3 billion) as a result of the participation of a subsidiary company.
As of Sunday Interpol has confirmed that whilst they have not yet received a detention request, it could not rule out that a request would be rejected.
In recent years Spain has become known for its willingness to enforce international arrest warrants issued on dubious charges by authoritarian regimes who use Interpol’s ‘Red Notice’ system as a means of persecuting political opponents.
Spain remains one of the very few places in the western world that has a criminal libel law. Defamation constitutes a criminal act in Spain and is known as “calumny” under Articles 205 and 216 of the Spanish Penal Code. This refers to spreading or publishing false information that you know to be untrue, and spreading information with ‘reckless’ contempt for truth.
For the targets of authoritarian regimes, travel to Spain can carry additional risks beyond the country’s alleged willingness to act on spurious international warrants.
Bill Browder, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was detained in Spain three years ago on an international arrest warrant requested through Interpol. This is one of many examples of Spanish authorities enforcing dubious ‘red notice’ warrants.
The story of Brown’s journalistic work on the scandal is currently being made into a film for potential release by Sony.
According to Deadline, ‘Bad Boys for Life’ producer Doug Belgrad, and ‘The Outpost’ director Rod Lurie have signed up for the project.
Lurie said: “Clare Rewcastle-Brown is a bona fide journalistic hero in the spirit of Woodward and Bernstein … to expose the immense corruption she uncovered, she gave up journalistic glory by handing her sources and information over to the Wall Street Journal because they had far greater reach … movies are movies because of women like her who fight for justice without selfishness and at enormous personal risk. It will be an honour to tell her story”.
The journalist arrives in Spain on Monday to care for her elderly father. The case will test Spain’s willingness to enforce international arrest warrants issued on spurious charges issued by authoritarian governments across the world.