Will Ryan Lochte Be Sent Back to Brazil in Robbery Probe? Legal Expert Explains All
A Brazilian judge ordered Ryan Lochte to turn over his passport amid reports he may have lied about being robbed
A Brazilian judge has orderedRyan Lochte to turn over his passport, prohibiting him from leaving the country, amid police questions about his account of being robbed at gunpoint during the Rio Olympic Games.
But the swimmer is already back on American soil, having left Brazil before the judge’s order. Could he be forced to return?
It’s unlikely, a legal expert tells PEOPLE.
“There is an extradition treaty between the U.S. and Brazil,” David Kubiliun, of Greenspoon Marder’s criminal law practice group in Florida, tells PEOPLE. “But it seems that the United States would probably not cooperate with the extradition.”
“It would be very difficult, I think, to extradite [Lochte] given the fact that he left after the order was in place and it doesn’t look like he was in violation of the order,” Kubiliun says.
Judge Keyla Blanc De Cnop on Wednesday ordered the search and seizure of the passports of both Lochte, 32, and teammate James Feigen, as police said questions remained over their story about being robbed, PEOPLE confirmed.
By that point, however, Lochte had already left the country.
He had told NBC that he, Feigen and two other American swimmers were held at gunpoint early Sunday after robbers posing as police officers pulled the foursome over while they were in a taxi. Though Lochte was interviewed by law enforcement about the incident, police later said they have been unable to find witnesses from that night or the group’s taxi driver.
João Silva Oliveira of the Municipal Guard also told PEOPLE that the swimmers weren’t able to tell police what the taxi looked like and had conflicting answers about how many men with guns were involved in the incident.
“What they said to us, it did not make sense. We cannot investigate a crime if we don’t know what happened and what they told us is not correct,” Silva Oliverira said. “We want to know why they were in the area where they were robbed and what happened. They did not tell us until later.”
“We believe that more information will come out that might make everyone look at what happened in a different light,” he continued. “We need to talk to them again to make sure that what they tell us is right. We have a lot more questions.”
A statement from the local prosecutor also said surveillance video of the athletes on the night of the alleged robbery cast doubt on Lochte’s story.
“The more-than-calm behavior of the athletes straight after the supposed violence, together with other details present in the inquiry, makes me believe that more investigations should be undertaken into the possible false communication of a crime,” the prosecutor said.
Kubiliun, who is unconnected with the incident, tells PEOPLE that since Lochte left Brazil on Tuesday, before the seizure was ordered, he’s likely not to face any trouble.
However, Kubiliun notes that if Brazil were to place a warrant out for Lochte to return with his passport, he would likely be arrested if he returned to the country. (Lochte has not been charged with any crime.)
“Just like if the U.S. were to place a warrant on someone – let’s say Ryan would travel to Brazil, he would obviously get picked up at the airport and be incarcerated and face the charges of falsifying the police report, if they’re filed,” Kubiliun says.
Under Brazilian law, filing a false police report is punishable by up to six months in detention or a fine, according to USA Today.
“Given the fact that this is, at best, a misdemeanor, I find it very hard to believe that the U.S. would participate in an extradition,” Kubilium tells PEOPLE. “At the end of the day, what it boils down to is if the order came down after he left, then it would seem unlikely that the U.S. would participate in the extradition, in respect to the passport.”
After returning home, Lochte was spotted in North Carolina with Playboy playmate Kayla Rae Reid around 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, an eyewitness told PEOPLE. Feigen, however, remains in Brazil, according to the San Antonio Express-News.
The United States Olympic Committee previously confirmed that Lochte was robbed in a statement, but provided no additional details.
Jeff Ostrow, Lochte’s lawyer, did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but has told the AP that his client was “100 percent cooperative” and signed a statement Monday about his version of events.
Ostrow said, “It doesn’t behoove Ryan and anyone else to make up a story.”