U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., has called on the Portuguese government to support the extradition of George Wright, who was convicted of murdering a Wall Township resident in November 1962.
“George Wright is guilty of the murder of Walter Patterson and has yet to serve out his full sentence for that heinous crime in the United States,” wrote Lautenberg in a letter to Portuguese Prime Minister Passos Coelho.
“As such, I respectfully request any assistance and support you can provide in ensuring the extradition request by the United States for Mr. Wright is granted.”
A copy of the letter is below and can be found here.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced last week it has appealed a Portuguese judge's decision denying the extradition of Wright, an American fugitive who spent on three continents.
The appeal to extradite was filed with the Portuguese Court of Appeals, but U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to provide the legal arguments for it because in Portugal extradition cases are conducted in secret.
Wright, his Portuguese wife and their two grown children were jubilant Nov. 17 when a . The judge ruled that Wright, 68, had become a Portuguese citizen and that the statute of limitations on his 15- to 30-year sentence for a robbery-murder in New Jersey had expired, Ferreira said.
Wright spent seven years in a U.S. prison for murder before escaping in 1970. He then hijacked a plane in 1972 from the U.S. to Algeria along with other Black Liberation Army militants. He was captured in Portugal after his U.S. fingerprint matched one in Portugal's database of prints for all citizens.
Authorities say Wright and three associates had already committed multiple armed robberies on Nov. 23, 1962, when Walter Patterson was shot dead in his gas station in Wall.