US bid to extradite hijacker fails


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The Independent US

Officials in the US may appeal after their request for the extradition of a fugitive American hijacker and convicted murderer, who has been living undisturbed in Portugal for nearly two decades, was denied.

George Wright, 68, has been on the run for 41 years. He was arrested in September after fingerprint files in the US were matched to his and the FBI traced him. Washington wants him brought back to serve the rest of his sentence for a 1962 petrol station robbery in New Jersey in which the owner was shot dead.

Wright, who escaped from jail in 1970 and hijacked a flight to Algeria in 1972, welcomed the Portuguese ruling, insisting he was a changed man. He said accomplices fired the fatal shots in the garage robbery. After his extradition was refused, he added: "I want to relax now, and spend time with my family and friends."

Wright married a Portuguese woman in Lisbon in 1978. In the 1980s they settled in Guinea Bissau, which gave him political asylum and an alias, Jose Luis Jorge dos Santos. He then moved his wife and children back to Portugal in 1993 and worked as an odd-job man until his arrest.