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Missing Turks and Caicos ex-premier arrested in Brazil for corruption

The former jet-setting premier of the Turks and Caicos islands was arrested Friday in Brazil after having disappeared a couple years ago, authorities said.

Michael Misick was detained at the Santos Dumont Airport in Rio de Janeiro on an international warrant issued by Interpol, said Neil Smith, the island's governor's spokesman.

He said Britain will seek Misick's extradition to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Misick was arrested as he tried to board a plane to Sao Paulo. Brazil's federal police said in a statement that agents "have been investigating his whereabouts for more than a year."

The statement said the British government asked Brazil's Supreme Court to issue an arrest warrant in the South American nation, and that the court granted that order on Nov. 22.

No further details on Misick's arrest were available. A spokesman for Interpol's Rio de Janeiro office declined to comment.

The British government had obtained the warrant from Interpol in March, saying authorities wanted to question Misick as they investigated allegations of rampant corruption in the territory.

Misick was first elected premier in 2003 and then re-elected in 2007. He stepped down in 2009, shortly after Britain took temporary control of the local government. He is accused of corruption, misusing public money and profiting from the sale of government-owned land to developers.

Misick has said the charges are politically motivated.

There was mixed reaction to his arrest in the Turks and Caicos islands. Some celebrated the news while others lamented it, accusing Britain of running a smear campaign against Misick and his Progressive National Party.

Party members called an emergency meeting Friday afternoon to talk about the arrest, which comes nearly a month after the territory held parliamentary elections for the first time in three years, ending Britain's direct rule.