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Huawei Scandal: Who Else Has Been Arrested at the US’ Request?

Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer, Wanzhou Meng, was arrested in Vancouver on 1 December at the request of the US government, which accuses the Chinese tech giant of violating the American sanctions regime against Iran. Sputnik has recalled other notorious arrests made at the behest of Washington.

Major FIFA Takedown

A series of high-level arrests at the football association began in 2015, when 9 current and former FIFA executives were apprehended by Swiss police under a warrant from the FBI. They were accused of racketeering, wire fraud, and money laundering conspiracy. The list of those arrested included FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb and Vice President of the South American Football Confederation Eugenio Figueredo.

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While the latter was extradited to his home country, Uruguay, which also wanted to prosecute him for his misdeeds, most other FIFA managers wound up in the US. Later, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced that 8 of those charged had pleaded guilty.

Famous French-Polish Filmmaker

Roman Polanski, famous for his Chinatown and Macbeth films, was arrested in Switzerland in September 2009 at the request of the US due to a rape case dating back to 1977. It turned out that Polanski fled the US after pleading guilty to sexual assault charges, effectively making the case non-expiring. He did so upon learning that despite his plea deal, the judge planned to issue a lengthy sentence.

After two months, he was freed by a Swiss court, which denied the US extradition request. The US later demanded his extradition by the Polish government, but was also denied on 30 October, 2015 by a Polish court, which ruled that such an extradition would be “obviously unlawful”.

Guatemalan President

Alfonso Portillo, the president of Guatemala, was arrested on 26 January, 2010 over allegations of a money laundering attempt in the US, as he was fighting embezzlement charges in Guatemalan courts. Although he managed to be absolved of his embezzlement charges, the Constitutional Court ruled that he must be extradited to the US, where he faced court in 2013.

He eventually pleaded guilty in 2014 to attempting to launder $2.5 million that he had received from the Taiwanese government in exile for promises to continue recognising it. Portillo was sent to a minimum-security prison in Denver. He was released in February 2015 and returned to Guatemala.

Major Ukrainian Oligarch

Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian businessman who is believed to have had deep ties to former President Yanukovych’s government, was arrested in Vienna in 2014 at the request of the US on charges of bribery, racketeering, and money laundering. Firtash called the US accusations “completely absurd and unfounded” and paid a record-high bail of $172 million.

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Later, in April 2015, the Vienna Regional Criminal Court denied the extradition request to the US, calling it “politically motivated”. The court’s judge noted that the US had failed to provide substantial evidence, namely witnesses proving that Firtash had paid bribes in India.