Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie is urging officials who oversee the Newark Liberty International Airport to ban flights from New Jersey to the country of Cuba until Assata Shakur is brought back to the U.S.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Christie sent a letter Tuesday to Port Authority chairman John Degnan, demanding flights be suspended until the return of Joanne Chesimard, known as Assata Shakur. The revolutionary activist was convicted of killing a New Jersey State trooper in 1973. After escaping prison, she was granted political asylum in Cuba. Since President Barack Obama announced efforts to open diplomatic relations with Cuba earlier this year, Christie has been vocal about returning Shakur to the United States.
In April, Cuban government officials said they did not plan to extradite her.
Christie said he won’t give the country the resources for “harboring a fugitive.”
Currently, Newark International Airport is not on the list of Customs and Border Protection’s list of 19 American airports allowed to travel to and from Cuba. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, however, is on the list.
JFK is operated by Port Authority.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
“I will not tolerate rewarding the Cuban government for continuing to harbor a fugitive,” Mr. Christie wrote in a letter sent to Degnan, chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
“I will continue to exercise my authority to ensure that Chesimard is returned,” the governor wrote, calling her a “convicted cop-killer.” The letter was also sent to federal officials at the Department of Homeland Security and Customs and Border Protection.
Degnan replied to the letter publicly, giving Christie praise for raising concerns about Shakur.
“I take the strongly expressed views of the governor very seriously and will commence a review immediately by which this application is proceeding,” Mr. Degnan said Tuesday, adding he hoped to complete the review in days. “I think the governor has raised serious and legitimate concerns about this.”
Customs and Border Protection hasn’t yet responded to Christie’s letter.
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