Valente, who is Portuguese, met Wright in the late 1970s when he was living near Lisbon. According to Wright’s lawyer, they lived together in the 1980s in Portugal and in Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony in West Africa.
Valente said she was visiting her parents last week when she was called into police headquarters in Lisbon and given an account of the charges against her husband.
“That day is blurry,” she said.
She said their children, now adults, “were grief-stricken” when they learned about their father’s past and wept with him all the way through their first jail visit last week.
She described Wright as a loyal husband and dedicated father.
“I’ve no cause for complaint,” she said.
John Blacken, a former U.S. ambassador to Guinea-Bissau from 1986 to 1989, told the AP last week he knew Wright and his wife during that time and that Wright lived openly under his real name for years there. Blacken said he had no idea Wright was a U.S. fugitive.
Valente even worked as a freelance translator for the U.S. Guinea-Bissau embassy from 1984 to 1990.
Wright was a member of a small group of expatriate Americans in the country who helped each other doing everything from obtaining potable water to getting electrical service and finding fresh vegetables amid shortages, said Curtiss Reed, former Guinea-Bissau country director for Africare Inc., a U.S.-based charity that aims to improve the quality of life in Africa.
Reed was floored after hearing the news about Wright’s past.
“This is total knock-me-off-my-seat stuff,” Reed said in an interview from Brattleboro, Vermont, where he is now executive director of the Vermont Partnership for Fairness and Diversity.