Jewish Kremlin foe sought by Putin at Helsinki summit slams ‘incredible offer’
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Jewish Kremlin foe sought by Putin at Helsinki summit slams ‘incredible offer’

Bill Browder, seemingly offered up in trade for indicted Russian spies, says he is taking precautions in wake of alleged campaign against Putin critics in the UK

William Browder, a US-born Britain-based financier, leaves the anti-graft prosecutor's office in Madrid, Wednesday, May 30, 2018 (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
William Browder, a US-born Britain-based financier, leaves the anti-graft prosecutor's office in Madrid, Wednesday, May 30, 2018 (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Outspoken Kremlin critic Bill Browder on Monday said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is “playing Trump like a fiddle,” and slammed the Russian president’s accusation that he donated $400 million to then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Browder also criticized US President Donald Trump for seeming to approve of Putin’s idea to invite special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators to come to Russia to interview the 12 indicted Russian intelligence officers in exchange for him being offered up to Russia.

At a press conference in Helsinki on Monday, when asked about the indictments against 12 Russian intelligence officers accused of hacking Democratic emails to help Trump’s campaign, Putin suggested that Moscow and Washington could jointly conduct the investigation, inviting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators to come to Russia to interview the 12 people — an idea Trump hailed as an “incredible offer” and appeared to nod his head.

Putin said he’d expect the US to return the favor and cooperate in a Russian probe against Browder over alleged financial crimes.

Browder, a Jewish US-born British citizen, who describes himself as “Putin’s no.1 enemy,” has led a high-profile campaign in memory of his lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, who went public with details of massive fraud by Russian state officials before being charged with tax evasion and later dying in detention after spending 11 months in squalid prisons in 2009.

“Putin offered to allow American investigators to interview the 12 Russian intelligence agents just indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in exchange for allowing Russians to have access to me and those close to me. This is no idle threat. For the last ten years, I’ve been trying to avoid getting killed by Putin’s regime, and there already exists a trail of dead bodies connected to its desire to see me dead. Amazingly, Trump stood next to him, appearing to nod approvingly,” Browder wrote in an opinion piece published by Time.

He added that it would be up to British Prime Minister Theresa May, since he was now a British citizen.

The longtime Putin foe also said that the Russian leader’s accusation that he had donated $400 million to Clinton was “so ludicrous and untrue that it falls into delusion.”

When asked by CNBC Monday if he was concerned by the pattern of suspicious deaths in the UK which some say are proof Britain has become a killing ground for the state-sanctioned elimination of enemies of the Russian government, Browder said that he is taking precautions but that there is nothing he can really do to stop a “government-sponsored terrorist attack.”

He said Putin was “playing Trump and the United States like a fiddle.”

US President Donald Trump, left, listens to Russian President Vladimir Putin during a press conference after their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, on July 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

In 2012, the US passed the “Sergei Magnitsky Act” which imposed a visa ban and froze the assets of Russian officials implicated in Magnitsky’s death. Putin has been trying to get the move repealed ever since, according to Browder.

In May, Browder was briefly detained in Spain due to confusion over an arrest warrant Interpol says never existed.

The 54-year-old tweeted that he was wanted on an “Interpol Russian arrest warrant,” but police later said he had been released when they realized the “warrant” had expired.

Browder also tweeted that Interpol had intervened and told the police “not to honor the new Russian Interpol Red Notice,” referring to the international police group’s list of wanted people.

Further muddying the waters, Interpol told AFP that Browder was not wanted via their own channels.

“There is not, and never has been, a Red Notice for Mr Bill Browder,” it said in a statement at the time.

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