[Ppnews] Portugal’s Supreme Court rejects 2nd US appeal to extradite fugitive George Wright

Political Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Wed Feb 1 17:07:57 EST 2012


Portugal’s Supreme Court rejects 2nd US appeal to 
extradite fugitive George Wright

By Associated Press, Updated: Wednesday, February 1, 11:51 AM

LISBON, Portugal ­ Portugal’s Supreme Court has 
refused a second appeal by the U.S. to extradite 
American fugitive George Wright.

A court ruling provided to The Associated Press 
on Wednesday showed judges confirmed a decision 
last month to deny a U.S. appeal for extradition. 
They issued their ruling Tuesday without providing details.

The U.S. can lodge a final appeal at the Constitutional Court in Lisbon.

Portuguese police captured the 68-year-old Wright 
near the capital Lisbon last September, ending 
his four decades on the lam after escaping from a New Jersey prison.

A lower court judge ruled in November that Wright 
had become a Portuguese citizen and that, under 
Portuguese law, the statute of limitations on his 
15- to 30-year sentence for a robbery-murder in 
New Jersey had expired. It consequently refused to send him back to the U.S.

The Supreme Court judges wrote in Tuesday’s 
decision that the U.S. arguments “did not invalidate” the earlier ruling.

In Portugal, foreign authorities must present 
their extradition request through the local Public Prosecutor’s office.

However, the Portuguese Public Prosecutor decided 
against an appeal. Its reasons for doing so were 
not made public. In Portugal, extradition cases are conducted in secret.

The Supreme Court consequently ruled that it was 
not legally permissible for the U.S. to appeal 
alone, rejecting the appeal on procedural grounds.

Wright’s Portuguese lawyer, Manuel Luis Ferreira, 
told The AP he had not yet seen the Supreme Court 
ruling and declined to comment.

However, he said that Wright was “happy” with the 
decision. “It’s good for us,” Ferreira said by telephone.

Wright, now called Jorge Luis dos Santos after 
changing his name, is married to a Portuguese 
woman and has two grown children. They have lived near Lisbon since 1993.

Wright spent seven years in a U.S. prison for 
gunning down a man during a 1962 gas station 
robbery in New Jersey. Wright and others broke 
out of prison in 1970. He was among a group that 
hijacked a plane in 1972 from the U.S. to Algeria 
along with other Black Liberation Army militants.

Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony in West 
Africa, granted him political asylum in the 1980s 
when it was run by a Marxist government. Wright 
then got Portuguese citizenship through his 1991 
marriage to a Portuguese woman.

Wright was captured in Portugal after his U.S. 
fingerprint matched one in Portugal’s database of 
prints for all citizens, according to U.S. officials.

The daughter of Walter Paterson, the man killed 
during the New Jersey holdup, said Wednesday the 
latest decision sounded to her like more of the 
same though she hadn’t learned the details yet.

“I would always hope that they would do what is 
right,” said Ann Patterson, 63, of Howell, New Jersey.


Geoff Mulvihill in Haddonfield, New Jersey, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights 
reserved. This material may not be published, 
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

© The Washington Post Company

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