Actress Kate del Castillo, Who Helped Arrange Sean Penn's Bombshell Interview, Sought As a Witness in 'El Chapo' Investigation
"She didn't know Penn was going to write for Rolling Stone. Would you meet with 'El Chapo' and approve to have the interview for publication?" attorney Harland Braun told the Associated Press
Kate del Castillo spoke out earlier this week about the meeting between Sean Penn and the notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquén “El Chapo” Guzmén Loera, recounted in a controversial Rolling Stone story, which del Castillo said she had no advance knowledge of, her lawyer told the Associated Press.
What’s more, her lawyer told the AP that del Castillo, 43, is willing to speak to the Mexican authorities, who are now seeking to question her in connection with a money-laundering probe involving Guzmén and her tequila business, Tequila Honor Del Castillo.
Mexican Attorney General Arely Gomez confirmed “a kind of summons had been issued for Del Castillo to testify,” according to the AP, but took pains to make clear that the actress is considered a witness and has not been accused of any crime.
“She didn’t know Penn was going to write for Rolling Stone. Would you meet with ‘El Chapo’ and approve to have [that meeting appear] for publication?” her attorney Harland Braun told the AP. “After the interview, she had no choice about it. Once Penn and Guzman agreed on the article, what was she going to do? She signed off after they had done so.”
“That’s what made her feel really betrayed by these people,” Braun said, referring to Penn and two other people involved in the meetings. “The three of them go together and basically used her and didn’t tell her.”
Penn wrote in his Rolling Stone piece of how de Castillo, interested in working on a possible movie about Guzmén’s life, helped arrange his October meeting with the drug lord, then a fugitive from justice following a high-profile prison escape.
Penn’s piece was published on Jan. 9, one day after Guzmén was recaptured by authorities in Mexico.
Mexican federal prosecutors have since issued an order to have del Castillo, a naturalized U.S. citizen and longtime resident of Los Angeles, located and questioned as part of the money-laundering probe, according to the AP.
“In the course of the investigation they are going to talk to her, right?” Braun told the AP. “If we receive proper information and credentials, she’ll talk to them. She’s not hiding anything.”
“He obviously was a fan of hers. She was trying to encourage him because he wanted to make a movie about his life. That’s it,” Braun said. “They’re obviously friendly but that’s it.”
(PEOPLE was not immediately able to reach Braun for comment.)
The prosecutors’ search order only applies to Mexican territory, according to the AP.
Two anonymous security officials told the AP that, under the order, del Castillo would only be detained while she was giving a statement as a witness, and then released.
The actress, who has appeared in Jane the Virgin, Weeds and other film and TV productions, had earlier sought an injunction in Mexican court to prevent the government from arresting her in connection with its investigation into her relationship with Guzmén, according to NBC News.
Under Mexican law, citizens can file for such injunctions against actions that they argue will violate their constitutional rights, even if such actions have not yet happened, according to NBC News.
That petition is being reviewed by the court, according to the AP.
For his part, Penn has spoken publicly about his disappointment with the reaction to the piece, which “failed,” he said, in its attempt to start a conversation about America’s anti-drug policies.