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Cody Wilson, 3-D Printed Gun Proponent, Is Arrested in Taiwan on Sex Assault Charge

Cody Wilson, 3-D Printed Gun Proponent, Is Arrested in Taiwan on Sex Assault Charge
By: New York Times Posted On: September 21, 2018 View: 10

Cody Wilson, 3-D Printed Gun Proponent, Is Arrested in Taiwan on Sex Assault Charge

Cody Wilson, 3-D Printed Gun Proponent, Is Arrested in Taiwan on Sex Assault Charge

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Cody Wilson, a prominent advocate of 3-D printed guns, in Austin, Tex., in August.CreditCreditReuters

By Tiffany Hsu and Chris Horton

Cody Wilson, a leading proponent of 3-D printed guns, has been arrested in Taiwan after being charged in Texas with sexually assaulting a 16-year old girl there, Taiwanese officials said on Friday.

The police arrested Mr. Wilson in the Wanhua district of Taipei and delivered him to the National Immigration Agency, officials in the city said.

The police in Austin, Tex., said on Wednesday that Mr. Wilson had failed to board a flight back to the United States from Taipei, and that they had asked the United States Marshals Lone Star Fugitive Task Force for help finding him. The marshals will return Mr. Wilson to Austin authorities after he returns to the United States, the Austin Police Department said Friday.

He had not been charged when he went to Taiwan, so he is not considered to have fled the country.

Mr. Wilson, 30, is accused of taking a girl he met via the website SugarDaddyMeet.com to a hotel in Austin on Aug. 15, having sex with her and paying her $500 in cash.

Before he left for Taiwan, a friend of the girl told him that he was under investigation for assault, the Austin police have said. Taiwan and the United States do not have an extradition treaty but have agreed to provide mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.

The state-owned Taiwan Central News Agency reported on Friday that a real estate agent who had seen local news stories about the sexual assault charge told the police that Mr. Wilson paid a deposit on an apartment on Wednesday. Mr. Wilson was arrested by officers with the Criminal Investigation Bureau at a hotel in Wanhua, according to the report.

Mr. Wilson could be blocked from owning a firearm for life if convicted, legal experts said. He faces a sentence of up to 20 years, Austin officials said on Wednesday.

[Read more about Cody Wilson and the debate over downloadable guns]

Mr. Wilson, a self-described crypto-anarchist, drew national attention over the summer after he reached an unexpected settlement with the State Department that allowed him to upload blueprints for 3-D printed guns online in August.

Gun rights supporters and free speech groups supported his efforts, while gun control activists raised concerns that downloadable firearms, which are difficult to detect and track, would endanger public safety.

Attorneys general from multiple states filed a last-minute lawsuit seeking to stymie Mr. Wilson. Last month, a federal judge barred him from carrying out his plan until the lawsuit, which by then included attorneys general from 19 states and Washington, D.C., was resolved.

In response, Mr. Wilson said he would sell the files and mail them to buyers instead of making them freely available on his website, Defense Distributed. Josh Blackman, his lawyer in the 3-D guns lawsuit, declined to comment on how the sexual assault charge might affect the case.

[Read more: Blocked From Posting Printable Gun Plans, Activist Will Mail Them Instead]

Sharon Lauchaire, a spokeswoman for New Jersey’s attorney general, Gurbir S. Grewal, said in an email thatMr. Grewal and the other attorneys generals planned to carry on with their case.

“Regardless of Wilson’s arrest, we will continue fighting to protect our residents and law enforcement officers from the spread of 3-D guns and to ensure compliance with the court orders issued in these cases,” she said.

At the end of July, on the same day that President Trump tweeted that he was looking into 3-D printed gun sales, Mr. Wilson spoke to Dana Loesch, spokeswoman for the National Rifle Association, on the group’s online video channel.

“They’re going for broke,” Mr. Wilson said of lawmakers opposed to downloadable guns. “They’re accusing me of committing state law felonies, being a public nuisance. Look, they’ll put me in jail in the end if they have to — that’s how serious they are about you not being able to make a gun.”

Follow Tiffany Hsu and Chris Horton on Twitter: @tiffkhsu, @heguisen

Chris Horton reported from Taipei.

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