October 2, 2011 in Nation/World

U.S. fugitive to claim he has new identity

Associated Press
 

LISBON, Portugal – Captured American fugitive George Wright will claim a new identity to prevent the U.S. from extraditing him, his lawyer said Saturday.

Wright, 68, became a Portuguese citizen, called Jose Luis Jorge dos Santos, in 1991 after marrying a Portuguese woman, lawyer Manuel Luis Ferreira told the Associated Press.

Ferreira said in an interview that Wright’s new identity was given to him by West African country Guinea-Bissau when it granted him political asylum in the 1980s and was accepted by Portugal.

The U.S. is trying to extradite Wright to serve the remainder of his 15- to 30-year sentence for a 1962 murder in New Jersey. He had served more than seven years before breaking out of prison in 1970.

But Ferreira said his client argues that he has the right to serve the time in Portugal because he has Portuguese citizenship based on his new identity.

“As a Portuguese citizen, if he has to answer to any authority or if he has to serve any sentence, it has to be to Portuguese authorities and in Portuguese territory,” Ferreira said.

A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman declined to comment on Ferreira’s arguments.

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