Texan running 3-D printed guns company apprehended in Taiwan

By Jon Herskovitz and Yimou Lee

AUSTIN, Texas/TAIPEI (Reuters) – A Texan running a 3-D printed guns company who flew to Taiwan as police investigated an accusation that he had sex with an underage girl was apprehended in Taipei on Friday after U.S. authorities annulled his passport, officials said.

Cody Wilson, 30, was taken to immigration authorities in the capital by officers from Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau, according to local media reports and an official from the bureau who asked not to be named. However, two Taiwanese officials denied Wilson was arrested or in custody. His exact status was unclear.

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

A lawyer for Wilson, as well as representatives of the Austin Police Department and the U.S. Marshals Service, were not immediately available for comment on Friday.

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 $500 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.

Gun control proponents are concerned that such weapons will be untraceable, undetectable “ghost” firearms that pose a threat to global security.

Some gun rights groups say the technology is expensive, the guns are unreliable and the threat is overblown.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz in Austin, Texas; Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in Taipei and Gina Cherelus in New York; editing by Bill Berkrot)