Argentina’s president has blocked the extradition of a Denver fugitive who claims he was framed for murder because video he took of ground zero proves U.S. complicity in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
The government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner issued an executive order Sept. 16 overriding a December decision by the Argentina Supreme Court. The court had approved the extradition of Kurt Frederick Sonnenfeld to the United States.
The government’s order cited human rights in its denial of the request to grant extradition. It also says that extradition could put Argentina in a position of violating an international principle of not forcing the return of asylum seekers to countries where they could be persecuted.
Sonnenfeld, who was charged in the New Year’s Day 2002 murder of his first wife, Nancy, is a former videographer for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. His video over the course of several weeks in September 2001 documented rescue and recovery efforts that were broadcast around the world.
Sonnenfeld claimed in his book “El Perseguido” (“The Persecuted”) and in numerous interviews that he was framed for murder to silence him. He maintains his video proves U.S. authorities were conspirators in the 9/11 attack. He claims members of President George W. Bush’s government wanted to draw the country into a war with Iraq.
CBS’s “48 Hours” provided documents to The Denver Post on Tuesday that detailed the executive decision made by the government of Kirchner. The TV news magazine is airing a broadcast called “The Strange Case of Kurt Sonnenfeld” on Saturday.
Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey, said the office has not received any notice about Argentina’s decision in September. However, she added that such notification would come through the U.S. Justice Department.
Messages left for Peter Carr, spokesman for the U.S. Justice Department, were not returned Tuesday.
The latest order in Sonnenfeld’s case was signed by five officials from Kirchner’s government, including Hector Timerman, foreign relations minister of Argentina.
The Argentine Supreme Court approved Sonnenfeld’s extradition in December, 11 years after then-District Attorney Bill Ritter first sought his extradition.
The 2004 extradition request was initially rejected by an Argentine federal judge who said Colorado failed to offer adequate assurances that it would not seek the death penalty against Sonnenfeld.
In its extradition request, Ritter indicated that Sonnenfeld was charged under a statute that did not have death as a possible penalty. He also signed a document promising not to seek the death penalty against Sonnenfeld.
Former Gov. Bill Owens also signed a document saying that if Sonnenfeld was sentenced to the death penalty, he would not allow his execution.
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