Published: Wed, June 13, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Panamanian ex-president extradited from US

Panamanian ex-president extradited from US

Panama City, Jun 12 Panamanian former president Ricardo Martinelli was taken to hospital early today, one day after he was extradited from the United States to face charges of spying on journalists and opponents.

Martinelli, who was Panama's president between 2009 and 2014, is accused of being engaged in corruption and spying on both his opposition and Panamanian citizens.

Martinelli was jailed in the United States a year ago after Panama requested his extradition on charges that he used public money to spy on more than 150 political rivals during his 2009-2014 term. Martinelli had initially contested his extradition in the US, but dropped his appeals.

Fellow members of Martinelli's Democratic Change (CD) party gathered outside the capital's Tocumen International Airport on Monday and waved party flags in a show of support for the ex-president.

According to a statement by the Justice Department, Martinelli was indicted in Panama for illicitly monitoring the private communications of more than 150 people he identified as "targets" through the use of two multi-million dollar surveillance systems.

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I am ready to see the World Cup (for which Panama qualified for the first time in history), he said making a gesture with his thumb up, the information added.

Under a 1905 extradition treaty, he can only be tried in Panama for the crimes alleged in the request.

Martinelli appeared handcuffed in photos shared by Panama's security ministry and was transported to Renacer prison, where former strongman Manuel Noriega, who died past year, had been held.

He claims that he is the victim of a "vendetta" by Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, his former vice president.

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