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U.S. extradites Panama ex-President Martinelli

U.S. extradites Panama ex-President Martinelli”

The 66-year-old is under investigation in Panama in about 20 other cases of corruption, but those are not referred to in the extradition request.

On Friday, President Juan Carlos Verla said the U.S. State Department had approved his request to extradite his predecessor.

Martinelli appeared handcuffed in photos shared by Panama's security ministry and was transported to Renacer prison, where former strongman Manuel Noriega, who died a year ago, had been held. He claims the charges are false claims from political enemies. In August 2017 a USA magistrate judge ruled that Martinelli would be sent back to Panama. Martinelli's petition for a writ of habeas corpus was denied by the federal district court in the Southern District of Florida in January.

In a brief statement released Sunday night, the Panamanian Foreign Ministry said that Martinelli remains in the custody of the government of the United States, until he is delivered to Panamanian authorities.

Martinelli is accused of spying on the telephone calls of more than 150 people, including journalists and politicians.

The US on Monday extradited former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli to the Central American country, the US State Department said, to face charges of illegal wiretapping.

Martinelli's attorney Roniel Ortiz did not immediately respond to a request for comment. That agency used multimillion-dollar surveillance systems to listen in on and record cell phone conversations and computer communications from "targets", including Panamanian judges, USA diplomats, union activists, political allies and opponents, relatives of politicians and business rivals, according to information in filings to support his extradition.



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