Chris Christie Wants Cuba Flights Blocked Over Havana’s Sheltering of American Terrorist Reply

rewardChristie urges Port Authority to reject Newark-Cuba flights over cop-killer case

By Geoff Earle, New York Post

WASHINGTON – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is urging the Port Authority not to reopen direct flights between Newark and Havana because of Cuba’s continued harboring of convicted cop killer Joanne Chesimard.

“It is unacceptable to me to me as governor to have any flights between New Jersey and Cuba until and unless convicted cop killer and escaped fugitive Joanne Chesimard is returned to New Jersey to face justice,” Christie wrote in a letter to PA chief John Degnan obtained by The Post.

“I will not tolerate rewarding the Cuban government for continuing to harbor a fugitive,” he added.

Chesimard was convicted in 1977 of the brutal murder of New Jersey state trooper Werner Foerster in 1973 during a shootout on the New Jersey Turnpike.

Officer James Harper was wounded in the melee.

Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, busted out of a New Jersey prison in 1979 and fled in 1984 to Cuba, where she was granted asylum. She was serving a life sentence, and escaped with armed accomplices.

Her continued sanctuary inside Cuba became an issue immediately after word broke of the new thaw in relations between Cuba and the US.

“We believe that the strong US interest in the return of these fugitives will be best served by entering into this dialogue with Cuba,” President Obama said this spring.

Feature continues here: Christie Pushes Back Against Cuba’s Continued Sheltering of American Terrorist

 

 

N.J. Lawmakers Urge No Funding for Cuban Relations Until Chesimard is Returned to U.S. 2

Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba. (Photo: Associated Press)

Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba. (Photo: Associated Press)

By Jonathan D. Salant | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com, The Star-Ledger

WASHINGTON — Congress should not approve any money for restoring diplomatic relations with Cuba until convicted cop-killer Joanne Chesimard is returned to the U.S., three New Jersey Republican federal lawmakers said today.

U.S. Reps. Scott Garrett (R-5th Dist.), Leonard Lance (R-7th Dist.) and Tom MacArthur (R-3rd Dist.) made the request in a letter today to fellow Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, who chairs the House Appropriations subcommittee that approves spending on foreign operations, and the panel’s ranking member, Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.).

“Any attempt by the Obama administration to normalize relations with Cuba must include the extradition of Joanne Chesimard back to New Jersey so that she can face justice and serve out her sentence,” the lawmakers wrote. “Until Cuba accepts this condition, we request all funds directed toward normalization be withheld.

Today’s letter is the latest attempt by the New Jersey congressional delegation to make Chesimard’s return a condition of resuming diplomatic relations with Cuba. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.).told Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter last month that Chesimard and other fugitives must be extradited before Cuba is removed from a list of state sponsors of terrorism.

In January, members of the state’s congressional delegation called on President Obama to make Chesimard’s extradition “an immediate priority,”

Chesimard escaped prison and fled to Cuba after being sentenced to life imprisonment for the 1973 murder of Trooper Werner Foerster during a gunfight. Chesimard and other members of the Black Liberation Army had been stopped by State Police on the New Jersey Turnpike. In 2013, she became the first woman on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists.

The calls for Chesimard’s extradition have grown louder since Obama in December announced a “new approach” to Cuba, which has been under a U.S. embargo for a half-century, and said he would easing economic restrictions and move toward re-establishing diplomatic relations with the communist regime.

Article continues here:  NJ Lawmakers

 

Kelly: Ex-FBI Chief Tells of Cop-Killer Swap That Cuba Rejected 1

 ASSOCIATED PRESS  Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, above in 2013, said he presented a spies-for-Chesimard trade to Cuba through intermediaries.


ASSOCIATED PRESS
Former FBI Director Louis Freeh, above in 2013, said he presented a spies-for-Chesimard trade to Cuba through intermediaries.

By Mike Kelly, Record Columnist -The Record [Bergen County, NJ]

Years before Joanne Chesimard was placed on the FBI’s list of most wanted terrorists and the bounty for her capture was increased to $2 million, federal authorities secretly reached out to their Cuban counterparts with a plan to bring the convicted cop killer back to New Jersey.

It was the fall of 1998. The FBI drew up a proposal to trade five captured Cuban spies for Chesimard, who had been convicted two decades earlier of killing a New Jersey state trooper in a turnpike gunfight but had broken out of jail and fled to Cuba, where she was granted political asylum.

Cuban authorities refused to discuss the proposed deal.

Three of those spies were sent back to Cuba in December in exchange for American contractor Alan Gross and a CIA operative. The two others had returned earlier after serving their U.S. prison terms.

The proposed 1998 trade, which has never been publicly acknowledged by either the United States or Cuba, was described in detail in two recent interviews with The Record by one of its originators, former FBI Director Louis Freeh.

Why the plan failed may offer insight about the obstacles facing the state police, the FBI and a host of political figures as they renew efforts to bring back Chesimard. The story also illustrates the legacy of suspicion that permeates U.S.-Cuban relations.

In New Jersey, however, the renewed discussion of Chesimard’s fugitive status has reopened old wounds that date to an unsettling time in America — a time that was punctuated by a horrific confrontation on the New Jersey Turnpike between state troopers and members of the Black Liberation Army who were calling for an armed revolution.

Just before midnight on May 2, 1973, Chesimard, then 25, was traveling south with two male compatriots when two troopers stopped their car. Within minutes a wild gunbattle broke out, leaving Trooper Werner Foerster dead and his partner wounded.

Chesimard, who also was wounded, was later caught, charged with murder and sentenced to a life term. But in 1979, she escaped from the state women’s prison in Clinton and disappeared, only to turn up five years later in Cuba.

Chesimard, 67, and reportedly living in the Havana area under the name Assata Shakur, is regarded as a criminal by U.S. authorities. Cuba has never shown any inclination to rescind her political asylum, which was granted by Fidel Castro in the mid-1980s.

In the fall of 1998, however, Freeh thought he saw an opening for U.S. authorities to get their hands on Chesimard.

Feature continues here:  Chesimard deal

 

Christie to Obama: Get Chesimard From Cuba 2

Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba. (Photo: Associated Press)

Assata Shakur, the former Joanne Chesimard, escaped from prison in 1979 and fled to Cuba. (Photo: Associated Press)

William Westhoven, @Wwesthoven, Daily Record

Gov. Chris Christie has joined the growing call by New Jersey leaders demanding that Cuba return fugitive cop-killer JoAnne Chesimard as part of any negotiations the United States enters to normalize relations with its long-estranged neighbor.

The governor’s office issued a release on Sunday that included a copy of a letter sent by Christie to President Barak Obama, dated Dec. 18, urging him to “demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban government.”

“Cuba’s provision of safe harbor to Chesimard by providing political asylum to a convicted cop killer, and her ability to elude justice, is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice,” Christie wrote.

Christie wrote he did not share the president’s hopes that opening relations would reverse decades of human-rights abuse under the Castro regime, but that current developments provide the opportunity for Cuba to prove it is serious about change by sending Chesimard back to New Jersey.

“I ask you to use this opportunity to engage with the Cuban government to get this resolved, and I am very disappointed that returning a convicted killer of a police officer was not already demanded and accomplished in the context of the steps you announced regarding this dictatorship,” Christie wrote. “The family of her victims, like so many of those who have, and continue to suffer under the Castro regime, deserve this basic decency before further steps toward Cuba are taken by this government.”

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, (R-Harding), Sen. Robert Menendez and New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Rick Fuentes led a strong negative response from New Jersey leaders in the immediate aftermath of Obama’s historic announcement on Wednesday of a prisoner swap and new efforts to open relations with Cuba for the first time since a trade embargo was established 54 years ago.

At issue was the return of Chesimard, a former member of the revolutionary Black Liberation Army convicted of murdering New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973. Following her 1977 trial in New Brunswick, before a jury selected from Morris County residents, she escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility for Women in Hunterdon County on Nov. 2, 1979, in a brazen breakout executed by three armed BLA members.

Feature continues here: America’s Most Wanted