A top Cuban official told Yahoo News that his government has no intention of turning over a fugitive wanted by the FBI for killing a New Jersey police officer.
“I can say it is off the table,” said Gustavo Machin, the deputy director for American affairs at the Cuban Ministry of Foreign Affairs, when asked about calls for Cuba to return Joanne Chesimard.
Chesimard, 67, is on the list of the FBI’s most wanted fugitives, with a $2 million bounty on her head, for the 1973 murder of a state trooper during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike. Convicted in 1977, Chesimard — a onetime member of the radical Black Liberation Army — escaped from a New Jersey state women’s prison two years later and fled to Cuba, where she lives in seclusion under the name of Assata Shakur, officially protected by the Cuban government.
Officials in New Jersey, led by Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Bob Menendez, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, have demanded that Cuba return Chesimard before the U.S. takes any further steps to normalize relations with the communist government.
Cuba’s decision to provide sanctuary for Chesimard “is an intolerable insult to all those who long to see justice served,” including members of the slain New Jersey state trooper’s family, Menendez wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry last week. In an emailed statement to Yahoo News on Monday, Menendez said Chesimard is a “cop killer” and her return should be “a top agenda” item before any further concessions are made to the Castro government.