A group of Senate Republicans are pressing Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. to explain the administration’s policy for U.S. fugitives in Cuba, including a convicted cop killer, after President Obama’s announced normalization of relations with the communist-ruled island.
“As the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, do you support the normalization of relations with Cuba without the return of fugitives from justice for prosecution who have the blood of Americans, including law enforcement officers, on their hands?” said the three senators in a letter to Mr. Holder.
The letter was signed by Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida, Ted Cruz of Texas and David Vitter of Louisiana. Mr. Rubio and Mr. Cruz are both Cuban-Americans.
The senators demanded information about the number of U.S. criminals currently harbored by the Castro regime and the indictments against the fugitives, as well as Mr. Holder’s legal opinion on the plan to remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.
They also demanded an explanation of Mr. Holder’s involvement in the decision to free three convicted Cuban spies, including one convicted of a murder conspiracy, from U.S. prison and transfer them to Cuba.
Mr. Obama announced Dec. 17 that he was restoring diplomatic ties with Cuba and easing financial and travel restrictions on the country, though he had to stop short of completely lifting the 54-year-old U.S. embargo against the country.
The historic easing of tension between the two countries followed a deal for the release of U.S. aid worker Alan Gross, who had been imprisoned in Cuba for five years.
As many as 70 fugitives from U.S. justice could be living in Cuba. Several criminals on the FBI’s Most Wanted List are known to have found refuge in Cuba.
JoAnne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, fled to Cuba in 1979 after fellow members of the Black Liberation Army broke her out of prison, where she was serving a life sentence for the execution-style murder of a New Jersey state trooper.
(Corrected paragraph:) Another fugitive in Cuba is Charlie Hill, an accused cop killer and admitted hijacker. Mr. Hill and three other members of the Republic of New Afrika hijacked a jetliner in 1971 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and flew to Cuba.
“As the facts of these cases show, the actions of the individuals in question have deprived some Americans of their lives and affected the lives and well-being of countless others,” wrote the senators. “Attempting to gloss over the facts of their crimes against the United States is an insult to the values and ethics of our judicial system and those same ideals that you, as our nation’s chief law enforcement officer, are supposed to uphold.”