Update: Hours after the search began, Reuters reports that Taiwan police have apprehended Cody Wilson in Taipei after U.S. authorities annulled his passport.
Wilson, 30, was taken to immigration authorities in the capital by officers from Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, according to local media reports and an official from the bureau who asked not to be named. However, two Taiwanese officials denied Wilson was arrested or in custody. His exact status was unclear.
Because his U.S. passport was later annulled, the agency’s statement said, he “no longer has the legal status to stay in Taiwan.”
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Facing accusations of having sex with a minor, it appears that Cody Wilson, the man behind the 3-D Printable firearms company Defense Distributed, is somewhere in Taiwan being pursued by local police.
According to reporting by Chinese-language media outlet United Daily News, Wilson has skipped his flight home to the U.S. and has attempted to rent an apartment in Taiwan. He appears to have initially passed himself off as an American student living in the city but has since been turned away by a prospected landlord who recognized him and called the authorities.
United Daily News reports that area police and Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau are now trying to locate Wilson.
On Wednesday, Police in Austin Texas announced that they had a warrant out for the arrest of the 3D-printed gun pioneer on allegations of sexual assault of an underage girl. Investigators say both Wilson and the young girl met through a website called SugarDaddyMeet.com and were spotted at an Austin Hotel.
The department revealed that Wilson’s last known location was Taipei, Taiwan but that authorities were unsure whether the 30-year-old had gone to Taiwan on legitimate business or whether he was expressly trying to flee the United States.
“We can’t confirm any of the [Taiwan] reports just yet; no updates planned for today,” Lisa Cortinas, a spokeswoman for the Austin Police Department, told ArsTechnica on Thursday afternoon.
The Taiwan News has also reported that Wilson is on the ground in Taiwan, having been spotted at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei after arriving in the city on September 6. However, they report that Wilson checked out the next day.
Wilson, who has recently won a legal battle against the State Department, a court decision which has pissed off Attorney Generals across the United States, has relentlessly pursued his principled passion for disseminating 3-D printable gun blueprints to the general public.
After a federal judge in Seattle blocked Defense Distributed from having the gun blueprints available to anyone free of price, Wilson jumped through a loophole, placing them for sale inorder to keep them available.
“I’m happy now to become the iTunes of downloadable guns if I can’t be the Napster,” he said in an August press conference.
According to Wilson, the legal battles he has faced over the blueprints are a stance in defiance against those who seek to shut down the first amendment by limiting the free flow of information. He also claims to be a champion of the second amendment.
“I believe that I am championing the Second Amendment in the 21st century,” Wilson told CBS This Morning in August. “I think access to the firearm is a fundamental human dignity. It’s a fundamental human right,” he added.
In a separate interview with CBS, Wilson would compare the access to the blueprints of 3-D printable firearms and accessories available at the Defense Distributed website to seeking information at a public library.
Wilson first came to the public eye after posting plans for his mostly plastic, 3-D printed Liberator pistol in 2013.
As ArsTechnica notes, given Wilsons reported location in Taiwan, it is unlikely that an arrest leading to an extradition to the U.S. will happen.
A major difference between dealing with cases in Mexico versus Taiwan is that Mexico will extradite Americans who are wanted. China lacks such a treaty with the United States, and Taiwan is considered by Beijing to be a part of the People’s Republic of China despite often acting as its own country.
Even if extradition isn’t a given in this scenario, Wilson could be subject to deportation order under Taiwanese law. According to The Taiwan News, the National Immigration Agency would detain Wilson should he attempt to leave the island. Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau has noted to the press that, since Wilson has not committed any crimes in Taiwan, he cannot be arrested. But he could be ordered to leave the island.
So as this story unfolds, one of two things seem likely to happen. 1) Wilson will eventually return to the U.S. to face accusations of a sexual crime. 2) We have a Julian Assange 2.0 on our hands who has to seek shelter in a far-off land because he has totally pissed off his political adversaries with his pro-freedom ideas.
Deparment of Justice critic & 3d printed guns activist, Cody Wilson, charged over 16 year old female (age of consent in Texas is 17 years). Dating website involved requires that users confirm they are over 18 years old but police say looks under 17. https://t.co/kWtDLtMUKV
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) September 19, 2018