MIAMI (AP) — A federal judge said he will decide Aug. 31 whether a former president of Panama should be extradited from the U.S. to his home country to face political espionage charges.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Edwin Torres made the announcement at a hearing Wednesday for Ricardo Martinelli, Panama's president from 2009-2014.
Martinelli is accused in Panama of illegally monitoring communications of at least 150 people using an extensive surveillance system. He's also charged with embezzlement of public funds. Marinelli has denied wrongdoing and says the charges are politically motivated.
Martinelli's lawyers contend Panama's request is based on slim evidence and that an updated extradition treaty between the two countries took effect after the alleged crimes were committed. U.S. prosecutors say Panama's request is proper and the updated treaty does apply to Martinelli.