After skipping his flight back to the US in the wake of accusations of sexual assault against a minor, Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson attempted to rent an apartment in Taipei this week, according to (Chinese, Google Translate), a Chinese-language media outlet based in Taiwan.
That article indicates that Wilson appears to have initially passed himself off as an American student living in the city.
On Wednesday, police in Austin, Texas, first announced that they had a warrant out for the arrest of the 3D-printed gun pioneer on that allegation of sexual assault of an underage girl. At a press conference later that afternoon, the Austin Police Department revealed that Wilson’s last known location was Taiwan and that the department was not sure whether Wilson 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 Ars on Thursday afternoon.
Location, location, location
The reported rental incident is at least the second media account of Wilson being on the ground in Taiwan. Earlier, cited a Chinese-language publication known as when reporting that Wilson was spotted at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Taipei after having arrived in the city on September 6. However, Wilson checked out on September 7, according to
Given that Wilson’s current whereabouts remain unconfirmed, his arrest may not necessarily come soon. Earlier today, the United States Marshals Service (USMS) officially distributed a press release along with a wanted poster to American media.
“You have to realize, here in Texas, with our nature being so close to the Republic of Mexico, we have a lot of fugitives,” Brandon Filla, an Austin-based spokesman with the USMS, told Ars on Wednesday evening. “The only thing that’s different [in Wilson’s case] is the geographic location.”
A major difference between dealing with cases in Mexico versus Taiwan is that Mexico will extradite Americans who are wanted. Taiwan lacks such an extradition agreement with the US.
Even if extradition isn’t a given in this scenario, Wilson could be subject to deportation order under Taiwanese law. According to , 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.
As of Wednesday evening, the USMS had not begun interviewing anyone that it believes may be connected to the case.
“You want to know what is he willing to do,” Filla said when asked about those initial interviews. “What is he capable of? What is his income? And who may foster him while he’s a fugitive?”
Wilson has still not responded to Ars’ repeated requests for comment. Calls to the Defense Distributed office went to voicemail on Thursday afternoon.
The USMS is asking anyone who has any information regarding Wilson to contact the agency’s anonymous tip line at 512-800-4213.