LISBON, Portugal (AP) — The United States has asked Portugal’s Supreme Court to review its refusal to extradite American fugitive George Wright, a U.S. Department of Justice official said.
Portuguese police captured Wright in September last year, 41 years after he escaped from a U.S. prison where he was serving a sentence for murder. He had been living in Portugal since 1993 after a spell in Africa and other European countries.
A Lisbon court denied an initial U.S. extradition request in November and freed Wright, prompting the U.S. to appeal to the country’s Supreme Court.
But the higher court disallowed the appeal last month on procedural grounds.
Department of Justice spokesperson Laura Sweeney said in an email to the AP late Friday the U.S. has asked the court to review what she said was a “preliminary ruling.”
Wright’s lawyer Manuel Luis Ferreira said he was aware of the latest U.S. request. However, he said he had not had time to study it in detail and declined to comment.
Court officials were not available Saturday.
Wright, now called Jorge Luis dos Santos after changing his name, is married to a Portuguese woman and has two grown children. They live near Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.
The lower court judge had ruled that Wright, 68, had become a Portuguese citizen and that the statute of limitations on his 15- to 30-year sentence for a robbery-murder in New Jersey had expired.
Wright spent seven years in a U.S. prison for the murder before breaking out in 1970.
He and others then hijacked a plane in 1972 from the U.S. to Algeria along with other Black Liberation Army militants.
Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony in West Africa, granted him political asylum in the 1980s when it was run by a Marxist government. Wright then got Portuguese citizenship through his 1991 marriage to a Portuguese woman.
Wright was captured in Portugal after his U.S. fingerprint matched one in Portugal’s database of prints for all citizens, according to U.S. officials.