New Jersey officials might have been hoping that with warming relations between the U.S. and Cuba, one of the FBI’s most wanted criminals, Assata Shakur, would be extradited to face judgment after fleeing the country.
However, according to the Associated Press, Cuba’s head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, has reiterated her country’s sovereign right to grant and maintain political asylum.
“Every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted. … That’s a legitimate right,” Vidal told AP when asked if extradition was a possibility. “We’ve explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum.
“There’s no extradition treaty in effect between Cuba and the U.S.,” she added.
Former Cuban President Fidel Castro granted Shakur asylum after she escaped from prison after being convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, AP notes.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wrote a letter to the White House that was made public over the weekend, calling Shakur’s asylum “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.”
“So Joanne Chesimard [Shakur’s former name], a cold-blooded cop killer, convicted by a jury of her peers, in what is, without question, the fairest and most just criminal-justice system in the world—certainly much more just than anything that’s happened in Cuba under the Castro brothers. She is now, according to an official of the Cuban government, persecuted,” the governor added in a live interview Monday on local TV in response to Vidal’s statement, according to AP. “These thugs in Cuba have given her political asylum for 30 years. It’s unacceptable.”
Vidal pointed out that the U.S. has also sheltered wanted Cuban citizens.
“We’ve reminded the U.S. government that in its country they’ve given shelter to dozens and dozens of Cuban citizens,” she said. “Some of them accused of horrible crimes, some accused of terrorism, murder and kidnapping, and in every case, the U.S. government has decided to welcome them.”
Read more at the Associated Press.