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Colombia: Man freed after US calls off extradition

September 11, 2014

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A rural carpenter in Colombia erroneously charged with high-stakes money laundering walked free Wednesday after the U.S. withdrew an extradition request for him, officials said.

An official with the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office had earlier said the U.S. Justice Department told the office it erred in seeking the extradition of 42-year-old Ariel Josue Martinez. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk publicly about the case.

Martinez had argued he couldn’t have made more than $911,000 in electronic money transfers as a U.S court charged because he doesn’t know how to use a computer. Colombia had suspended the extradition pending further investigation.

Martinez left Bogota’s La Picota prison Wednesday night, six months after his arrest.

“Thank God that justice has been done. I never doubted because I know him like the palm of my hand,” his partner, Betty Perez, told The Associated Press by telephone.

Martinez’s case gained attention when his community of San Vicente del Caguan in Caqueta province insisted on his innocence and the Roman Catholic Church advocated for him.

Update hourly