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Portugal court rejects US murderer extradition

Lisbon’s appeals court on Thursday refused to extradite a convicted US murderer who was arrested in September after 41 years on the run on the grounds that he was now Portuguese, his lawyer said.

“The Lisbon appeals court ruled that he had Portuguese citizenship and will not be extradited,” George Wright’s lawyer Manuel Luis Ferreira told AFP.

The 68-year-old Wright was arrested on September 26 in Portugal, where he had been living for 20 years under the name of Jose Luis Jorge dos Santos, married with two sons now aged 25 and 26.

“He is now free,” the lawyer said of Wright, who had been held under house arrest pending the court’s ruling on a US bid to have him extradited.

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation had been searching for him since his August 1970 escape from Bayside State Prison in New Jersey, where he was jailed for a 1962 murder.

Following his prison break he was among five people who hijacked a Delta flight from Detroit to Miami.

They demanded a one-million-dollar ransom for the passengers and when this was paid, they forced the plane to fly to Boston where it refuelled and took on another pilot hostage, then crossed the Atlantic to Algeria.

The hijackers sought asylum there. Although the plane and money were seized by the Algerians and returned to the United States, the hijackers were only briefly detained.

In May 1976 French police captured four of the gang — but not Wright.

Wright’s lawyers say he got his new identity from Guinea Bissau, a former Portuguese colony in west Africa, in the 1980s.