MIAMI – An extradition hearing is set in Miami for a former Panamanian president who's battling efforts to send him back to his home country to face political espionage charges.
A federal magistrate judge will hear arguments Thursday to determine whether 65-year-old Ricardo Martinelli can remain in the U.S. or must return to Panama for trial. Martinelli was Panama's president from 2009-2014.
The former president failed to appear at a December 2015 court hearing in Panama on charges that include illegally monitoring phone and other conversations of at least 150 people with an extensive surveillance system he created with public funds. He denies any wrongdoing and is seeking asylum in the U.S.
Martinelli was arrested in Miami last month on an extradition warrant from Panama. He's being held without bond.