New Jersey state authorities said they hope the thaw in U.S.-Cuba relations announced by President Obama will aid the capture and return of Assata Shakur (Joanne Chesimard), who escaped prison and fled to the island after being convicted of killing a New Jersey State Police trooper.
“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 in 1973,” State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes said in a statement.
Chesimard, a member of the Black Liberation Army, was convicted in 1977 of murdering Trooper Werner Foerster during a gunfight after being stopped on the New Jersey Turnpike. She was sentenced to life in prison, but two years later escaped.
After hiding out for years, Chesimard resurfaced in Cuba in the mid-1980s and was granted asylum by the nation’s former leader, Fidel Castro. Since then, she has been living under the protection of the Castro family and going by the name Assata Shakur.
Authorities have made numerous attempts to extradite Shakur, including an appeal to Pope John Paul II, who made a historic trip to Cuba in 1998.
In 2013, she became the first woman listed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list, making her one of the greatest threats to the American government.
The FBI and the State Police are offering $2 million for information leading to her capture.
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