U.S. Senator Roger Wicker accused the authoritarian regimes like Turkey, Russia, China, and Venezuela of abusing the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL) in order to punish dissidents and undermine the rule of law.
Delivering a speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, Wicker, a ranking member on the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, said that the annual General Assembly of INTERPOL—occurring this weekend in Istanbul, Turkey—should serve as a stark reminder of how “despots and crooks” manipulate the organization for their own interests. Turkey, where the assembly will take place, has an especially egregious record of weaponizing INTERPOL against regime opponents.
Since a failed coup attempt in 2016, The Turkish government has cancelled the passports of around 50,000 people to prevent them leaving the country, while uploading another 60,000 names on Interpol data. Without an Interpol notice, Turkish passport holders are able to use their current passports. The Interpol database, which includes passport information of the sought individuals, enables countries to detain suspects after their passport numbers are determined on the system.