Former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli, wanted for political espionage, was arrested by US authorities on Monday. As per reports, Martinelli was arrested near Miami. An arrest warrant was issued against him by US Justice Department following a request from Panama government last September seeking his extradition. The Interpol had also issued a warrant against him last month.
He was taken to a federal detention center in Miami and is scheduled to appear in US District Court on Tuesday. Martinelli has been accused of spying on more than 150 political rivals during his term as president from 2009-14 using public money.
Meanwhile, the former Panama president has said the extradition request is politically motivated describing himself as a victim of witchhunt. He has alleged that his successor Juan Carlos Varena was deliberately trying to target him. Varena also served as vice-president during Martinelli’s term.
Panama’s Supreme Court issued a warrant for Martinelli’s arrest in December 2015 after he failed to appear at a Panamanian court hearing on his case.