President Obama's move this week to normalize relations with Cuba could translate into a $2 million bonanza for someone.
The communist country has been harboring a wanted terrorist since the mid-80s.
Joanne Chesimard — highlighted above and also known as Assata Shakur — was a member of the Black Liberation Army. If her name sounds familiar, you may recall a story on TheBlaze referring to Ferguson protesters chanting Chesimard's words as they staged a Black Friday die-in that closed a Missouri mall.
In 2013, the FBI added Chesimard to its Most Wanted Terrorists list and offered a $1 million reward for information directly leading to her apprehension. The state of New Jersey sweetened the pot by matching the reward money, bringing the total bounty for Chesimard's apprehension to $2 million.
How did a New Jersey woman end up as the first (and currently) only female on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist list?
In 1977, Chesimard was convicted of the first-degree murder of a police officer. She was not the shooter, but participated in an encounter that ended with a New Jersey State Trooper being killed during a traffic stop in 1973.
Although she was convicted of murder and sentenced to life plus 33 years in prison, Chesimard’s supporters conceived and executed a daring prison break in 1979. She subsequently lived underground before being granted political asylum in Cuba in 1984, reportedly by Fidel Castro himself.
With relations between America and Cuba thawing, will the Castro brothers just hand over Chesimard or other American criminals reportedly hiding in the once-isolated island nation? Many on the left are saying that will never happen.
Left-leaning Democracy Now's Amy Goodman spoke with attorneys Martin Garbus and Michael Ratner this week. Both men believe there is absolutely zero chance that Cuba will extradite Chesimard.
The Star-Ledger reports the New Jersey State Police think differently. Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes issued a statement earlier this week saying, "We view any changes in relations with Cuba as an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence for the murder of a New Jersey state trooper."
Is extradition a possibility?
The U.S. and Cuba have an extradition agreement in place. The deal was struck in 1904 and went into effect in 1905. Some legal experts believe any deals struck before the breakdown of relations between America and Cuba would be seen as invalid. However, if the 109-year-old treaty is considered to be valid, there is a chance Cuba could send Chesimard back to complete her sentence.
Some legal experts argue that Cuba could avoid sending Chesimard back to the U.S. by claiming she is protected under Article VI of the extradition agreement. That section contains the following provision for crimes considered to be "of a political character":
A fugitive criminal shall not be surrendered if the offense in respect of which his surrender is demanded be of a political character, or if it is proved that the requisition for his surrender has, in fact, been made with a view to try or punish him for an offense of a political character.
The Blaze asked the FBI if the government would pay the reward money to a citizen of Cuba. That information was not available at press time.
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