Portugal Refuses To Extradite Escaped U.S. Prisoner

A U.S. request to extradite American fugitive George Wright back to the United States after escaping from prison in 1970 has been denied by a Lisbon court.

The court refused the request because Wright had changed his name, married a Portuguese woman and became on official citizen of the country.

Wright was arrested near Lisbon in September after the FBI tracked him down when he made a call to a U.S. family member.

Speaking of the courts decision the US Justice Department said they were “extremely disappointed” and said they may appeal to the countries higher court.

Wright was convicted of a 1962 murder and still has 15 to 30 years left on his sentence after escaping from a New Jersey prison in 1970 and then hijacking a Delta Airlines flight two years later. Wright was seven years into his sentence at the time of his escape.

Speaking about his clients situation Manuel Luis Ferreira told AFP:

“The Lisbon appeals court ruled that he had Portuguese citizenship and will not be extradited.”

Ferreira also revealed that the statue of limitations has expired.

When speaking about the courts decision Wright said:

“I am very pleased and I want to thank the Portuguese courts for having made the right decision”, and he said he has a “clear conscience”.

Speaking out against the courts decision US Justice Department spokeswoman Laura Sweeney said he is:

“A convicted murderer guilty of an extremely serious crime which falls squarely within the terms of our bilateral extradition treaty with Portugal”.

During the trial Wright was confined to his home through the use of an ankle bracelet.

Pulling the “health card” his lawyer said in October:

“I have no doubt that if he goes back [to the US] he will die. He is very afraid.”

“He believes they think that he tried to humiliate them, that they’ll make an example out of him… he believes that he will be killed in prison.”

Wright now goes by the name Jose Luis Jorge dos Santos and was granted political asylum in the 1980s.

I’m not sure what’s more scary, the fact that he killed someone and hijacked a plane while holding a gun to a flight attendants head or the fact that he says he now has a “clear conscience” about what he did, that sounds like a clear indicator of a psychopath to me.

Do you think Portugal needs to send George Wright back to the United States where he will serve out the sentence he deserves?