Cuba Says: Assata Shakur Will Not Be Extradited

Reporting by the Associated Press in Havana

A senior Cuban official has given the clearest sign yet that the island’s government has no intention of extraditing America’s most wanted woman, despite the warming of relations between the two countries.

“Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted,” the Cuban foreign ministry’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told the Associated Press.

“We’ve explained to the US government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum,” Vidal said, noting also that the two countries have no extradition treaty in effect.

Vidal’s comments in a Monday interview were the clearest sign yet that Cuba has no intention of extraditing Assata Shakur – formerly known as Joanne Chesimard – following a historic detente announced by last week by President Barack Obama and Raúl Castro of Cuba.

Shakur was granted asylum by Fidel Castro after she escaped from the prison where she was serving a sentence for killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 during a gun battle after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Shakur – who has maintained her innocence – was the rapper Tupac Shakur’sstep-aunt and godmother.

The New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, has urged Obama to demand her returnbefore restoring full relations.

In a letter to the White House made public on Sunday, Christie called her asylum in Cuba “an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey state police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice”. The FBI and the New Jersey state police have offered a $2m reward for information leading to Shakur’s capture.

Later on Monday, during an interview with a television anchor, Christie responded to Vidal’s statement that Cuba has the right to grant to political asylum to those who have been persecuted.

Continue reading at The Guardian

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