Former President of Panama Arrested in Coral Gables: U.S. Marshals

The Panamanian government accused Ricardo Martinelli of corruption and spying

The former president of Panama was arrested Monday evening in Coral Gables, Florida, on an extradition warrant from his country, where he is accused of political espionage and corruption, U.S. Marshals confirmed.

Ex-President Ricardo Martinelli was taken into federal custody near his home around 7:30 p.m, officials said. He was being held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.

In September 2016, the Central American nation sent an extradition request to the U.S. for the return of Martinelli. The Panamanian government accused him of spying on political opponents in Panama and intercepting the telephone calls of more than 100 people, including politicians, business and labor leaders and critical journalists.

Martinelli is also accused of corruption in Panama, but those cases have stalled in the courts.

Martinelli, who served as president of Panama from 2009 to 2014, is expected to appear before a judge Tuesday at 10 a.m. for an extradition hearing.

The former president has denied wrongdoing and contends the case is political persecution by his successor.

In February, Martinelli's two sons, Ricardo Alberto and Luis Enrique Martinelli, were being sought by Interpol for an alleged bribery scheme involving Brazilian construction giant Odebrecht.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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