Escobar's sidekick pleads for release

A drug lord imprisoned in the US has written a letter to the Colombian President asking for help in returning home.

Carlos Lehder, a co-founder of the notorious Medellin drug cartel led by Pablo Escobar, is serving a 55-year sentence after being extradited in 1987 from Colombia to America. In a letter to President Alvaro Uribe, Lehder claimed that a deal agreed with Washington meant he should have been released by now.

Lehder gave evidence in the trial of Manuel Noriega, former dictator of Panama. According to a Colombian newspaper, Lehder wrote to Mr Uribe: "Mr President: I was extradited at the age of 37. This year I'm turning 61." Admitting his guilt, he said he had served the agreed time and "obeyed the laws and followed the orders of the jailers who punish me".

Lehder ran a cocaine transport empire on Norman's Cay island in the Bahamas, 210 miles off the Florida coast.