- The Washington Times
Thursday, August 25, 2016

Authorities in Brazil have filed charges accusing U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte of making a false police report and want him in Brazil to respond to them.

According to a police statement, Mr. Lochte, who has publicly acknowledged exaggerating his account of the gas-station confrontation, will be informed of the charges in the U.S. and asked to make a defense in Brazil.

The U.S. State Department is aware of Brazil’s demand, according to the BBC, and the International Olympic Committee will also get a copy of the indictment.

Though falsely reporting a crime can carry a penalty of 18 months in jail, it usually is punished in Brazil only with a fine; teammate Jimmy Feigen resolved the case against him in the same incident that way.

But the notifications to State and the IOC suggest two potentially nasty fights — respectively over a possible extradition request and a ban or suspension from the sport.

Mr. Lochte, along with three other members of the U.S. Olympic swimming team, initially said they were robbed at gunpoint at a gas station. After a police investigation and the public release of video footage, Mr. Lochte admitted smashing up the station’s rest room while drunk and initially refusing to pay damages.

Clemente Braune, a commissioner with the Special Tourist Police in Rio de Janeiro, told CNN that Mr. Lochte has the option of sending a lawyer rather than appearing in person.

But should he do so, the commissioner explained, the U.S. swimmer would lose the option of negotiating a plea deal and risks that the judge would exercise the option, however rarely used, of imposing a jail sentence.

Mr. Lochte initial account of the “robbery” was quickly disbelieved by Brazilians, who took the false report as an insult against the nation.

Brazil could in principle make an extradition request with the U.S. — while filing a false crime report isn’t specified as an extraditable offense in the U.S.-Brazil treaty, perjury and falsifying government records are. Both those crimes are offenses in both countries, punishable by a year in jail, clearing the other principle requirements in the treaty and making a Brazilian request plausible enough to make.

Though there is no U.S. law against extraditing its citizens to foreign countries (Brazil has such a law), whether the U.S. would actually offer up Mr. Lochte would remain a wholly discretionary matter.

But should the U.S. refuse, Brazil then could make a request with Interpol asking every other country in the world to turn over Mr. Lochte, effectively forcing the swimmer to remain in the U.S. on the same logic that requires film director (and French citizen) Roman Polanski to remain in France over child-rape and flight charges in the U.S.

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