Ex-Panama president’s jail letter blames U.S. for extradition

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PANAMA CITY (Reuters) – Former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli, jailed in Miami on spying fees whereas awaiting extradition to his house nation, mentioned in a letter launched Friday that the USA reneged on guarantees from some U.S. officers to supply him a safe-haven.

FILE PHOTO: President of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli smiles throughout a session on the annual assembly of the World Financial Discussion board (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland on January 23, 2014. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photograph

“After years of friendship with this nation, I didn’t count on to be thrown in a U.S. jail,” he wrote in a letter dated Could 14 and launched by a spokesman.

Martinelli was jailed final 12 months in the USA after Panama requested extradition on fees that he used public cash to spy on greater than 150 political rivals throughout his 2009-2014 time period.

A U.S. court docket approved the extradition final 12 months, and Martinelli final month maintained his innocence however mentioned he would cease preventing the proceedings for judgment in Panama.

Within the four-page letter, Martinelli says Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, a former ally, had sought political revenge, and that he anticipated the USA to supply “safety” from Varela’s authorities.

He additionally detailed examples of aiding the USA to curb cross-border crime, resembling halting a North Korean ship touring from Cuba with planes, missiles and radar.

“When the CIA requested that I cease a North Korean ship leaving Cuba that was crossing the Panama Canal, I didn’t blink a watch,” the letter states.

Martinelli, a rich grocery store magnate, additionally mentioned he understood that high-ranking U.S. officers had agreed to let him settle in the USA “with out worry.”

Reuters couldn’t instantly confirm Martinelli’s claims.

“I used to be below the impression that guarantees made by such authorities officers may very well be relied upon. I used to be mistaken,” he added within the letter, which was addressed to the “authorities and folks of the USA”.

Writing by Daina Beth Solomon

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