Ex Panama president extradited from US; faces charges of illegal wiretapping

  • Ex Panama president extradited from US; faces charges of illegal wiretapping

Ex Panama president extradited from US; faces charges of illegal wiretapping

Former Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli (Congreso de la República del Perú, CC BY 2.0)The former Panamanian president, Ricardo Alberto Martinelli Berrocal, will stand trial in Panama on four charges related to an illegal wiretapping scheme purportedly orchestrated while he was in office between 2009 and 2014.

Deputy foreign minister Luis Hincapie said Panama had also asked the U.S. to extradite Martinelli's sons, Ricardo and Luis.

Supporters of the former president planned to rally later Monday in front of Panama's Supreme Court.

In May 2017, Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Martinelli with a so-called "red notice", a request to locate and provisionally arrest a person pending extradition. Martinelli appealed the decision but was rejected by the Southern District of Florida.

The State Department said on Monday it made the decision in accordance with a bilateral treaty and USA laws.

Martinelli, 66, is accused of spying on the telephone calls of more than 150 people, including journalists and politicians. They did not immediately respond to a request for comment, and their court filings were not publicly available at press time.

Former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli was extradited [press release] to Panama Monday to face four charges of illegally monitoring private communications, and for embezzling over $10 million in public funds. That agency used multimillion-dollar surveillance systems to listen in on and record cell phone conversations and computer communications from "targets", including Panamanian judges, US diplomats, union activists, political allies and opponents, relatives of politicians and business rivals, according to information in filings to support his extradition.