Monday, January 11, 2016

Sean Penn May Face Real Trouble for El Chapo Interview

Sean Penn Interviews El Chapo for Rolling Stone

Actor and Leftist social activist Sean Penn traveled to the jungles of Mexico to meet with the notorious Sinaloa  Cartel fugitive Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman.  The day after Guzman was re-apprehended by Mexico authorities, Rolling Stone published an article online of Sean Penn's interview.

This encounter was supposed to have been a win-win.  Despite his fugitive status after escaping from Mexican prison last spring, El Chapo can still act like a billionaire by rubbing elbows with a Hollywood star.  Meanwhile, Penn gets free media for his close encounter with a drug lord, burnishes his progressive credentials and plays the part of a journalist.

Well, the secret meeting between El Chapo and Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, did not work out exactly as planned.  Now Penn has more to worry about then brief vulnerability of his body parts. 

 Penn's meeting aided authorities in the capture of Guzman. Oops. It is unclear if Penn was the willing dupe of Mexican and American law enforcement or if his activities just tipped off the federales. 

Some might argue that Penn has nothing to fear from the government, because he was being a journalist.  Not so much.  Rolling Stone gave final editorial authority to El Chapo. Remarkably, the drug kingpin did not require any changes to the piece.  An independent journalist pursuing the truth does not give the editorial right of first refusal to a interviewee.  

But this is a dual jurisdiction situation. The Mexican authorities are not constrained by notions of First Amendment freedom of the press. 

Consider the complication about concealing or harboring a fugitive. Per criminal defense attorney Page Pate, one must do more than have a clandestine meeting with a fugitive for 18 USC 1071 harboring or concealing a fugitive to apply.  However, if Penn gave money to El Chapo for security or shared contact to evade authorities then he would be criminally liable.  There might be complications in Mexican law.  So Penn should not play on vacationing in sunny Mexico anytime soon.

Yet even if Penn may not face the pen for his El Chapo interview, Mediaite points out that G-men may want to debrief Penn based upon issues raised during his interview, like how El Chapo told him of companies which accept illegal investments, details about El Chapo's security (as Penn was not blindfolded in transit to his close encounter) and insight on El Chapo's drug operation. 

Considering how Penn's pen led the police to El Chapo, Penn may be safer in the pen rather than exposed to retaliation from Sinaloa sympathizers.  But then there is Mexican prison gangs to worry about. 

In that case, Penn may reprise his role as Spicoli: "Dude, that's my skull-- I'm so wasted". 

But this time, the stoner line might take on an entirely new context. 

h/t: Mediaite

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