Mexico City: Sean Penn's interview with drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman caused a cross-border uproar, with Mexican authorities seeking to question him while US critics lashed out at the American actor.
A federal official told AFP yesterday that the attorney general's office wanted to talk with Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo about their secretive meeting with Guzman in October, three months before his capture.
"That is correct, of course, it's to determine responsibilities," the official said on condition of anonymity, declining to provide more details, including a possible date for an interview with the stars. A second federal official said it was unclear whether Penn and del Castillo, who brokered the meeting, had violated any Mexican law.
While a reporter could interview a drug cartel suspect, "they're not journalists," the official said. White House chief of staff Denis McDonough told CNN that Penn's meeting with Guzman "poses a lot of interesting questions for him and others involved in this so-called interview. We'll see what happens."
The US rock magazine Rolling Stone on Saturday published the interview that Guzman gave to the actors in an undisclosed jungle clearing in Mexico. Despite Penn's cloak-and-dagger efforts to keep the gathering secret, a Mexican official said that authorities found out about the meeting, which eventually helped them track down the Sinaloa drug cartel chief. Guzman, 58, was arrested on Friday in a deadly military raid in the seaside city of Los Mochis, in his northwestern home state of Sinaloa.
Attorney General Arely Gomez said on Friday that Guzman had met with unnamed actors and producers to discuss making a biopic about himself and that it was part of a "new line of investigation." Some legal experts, however, doubt that Penn could face charges in the United States or Mexico.
"I seriously doubt that charges will be brought against them even though Sean Penn took extraordinary steps to prevent authorities from using his phone to track the whereabouts of Chapo," said Mike Vigil, a former senior official at the US Drug Enforcement Administration.
Floyd Abrams, a New York attorney known for his defense of journalists, said Penn did not violate any US laws.