• Ex-Panama president gets $1M bail in US but release on hold

    MIAMI (AP) - A Miami federal judge agreed to release former Panama president Ricardo Martinelli on $1 million bail as he fights extradition to his home country, but immediately put a hold on her decision.

    U.S. District Judge Marcia Cooke on Wednesday granted a request by the Justice Department to stay her ruling granting bail while prosecutors appeal. They contend Martinelli is too great a flight risk to release from custody.

    Cooke and another judge have previously ruled that Martinelli should be extradited to Panama to face political espionage and embezzlement charges. His lawyers are appealing those decisions.

    The 65-year-old Martinelli, Panama's president from 2009 to 2014, is accused of embezzlement and illegally monitoring phone calls and other communications using an extensive surveillance system.

    Martinelli has been jailed since his June 2017 arrest.

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