Texan running 3-D printed guns company sent back to US by Taiwan authorities

Cody Wilson poses at his factory in Austin, Texas, in August 2018.
Cody Wilson poses at his factory in Austin, Texas, in August 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

AUSTIN, Texas/TAIPEI (REUTERS) - A Texan running a 3-D printed guns company who flew to Taiwan as police investigated an accusation he had sex with an underage girl was deported back to the United States on Saturday (Sept 22) after his US passport was annulled, a Taiwanese official said.

Cody Wilson, 30, was on Friday taken to immigration authorities in Taipei by officers from Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, according to officials.

He was ordered to leave Taiwan because he no longer has a valid travel document, said Zhang Wen-xiu, a director of the international affairs and law enforcement division at Taiwan’s National Immigration Agency.

Zhang said Wilson, who was held by the agency, had been taken to Taipei’s Taoyuan International Airport for a flight to the United States on Saturday evening.

He declined to say which US city Wilson would be flying to.

He said the agency was in touch with Wilson’s lawyer. Wilson had agreed to the arrangement and had “expressed willingness to return to the US soon”, he added.

The United States’ de facto embassy in Taipei declined to comment on the case, citing privacy concerns.

The US Marshals Service, which would likely be responsible for taking Wilson back to the United States, said in a statement it was aware of Wilson’s arrest and was “fully engaged with our international partners on this matter.”

Wilson, at the centre of a US legal battle over his plan to publish instructions for the manufacture of 3-D printed plastic guns, flew into Taiwan legally, the National Immigration Agency said on Friday. Because his US passport was later annulled, the agency said in a statement, he “no longer has the legal status to stay in Taiwan.”

 
 
 

A lawyer for Wilson and representatives of the Austin Police Department were not immediately available for comment.

Taiwan does not have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Austin police have said Wilson flew to Taiwan earlier this month after a friend told him officers were investigating an allegation by a 16-year-old girl who said she was paid US$500 (S$680) to have sex with him at a hotel in the Texas capital.

Police said investigators interviewed the girl and on Wednesday obtained a warrant for Wilson’s arrest, but he had flown to Taiwan by then.

Police said they are aware that Wilson travels often for business, but that they do not know why he went to Taiwan.

Wilson is the founder of Defense Distributed, the focus of a legal and political battle over its placing on the Internet blueprints for plastic guns that can be made with a 3-D printer.

The files could previously be downloaded for free, but a federal judge issued a nationwide injunction last month that blocked the posting of the blueprints online.