Former Colombian presidential candidate and former Minister of Agriculture, Andres Felipe Arias, was released on bail today after a hearing on his motion to dismiss the extradition complaint in which he contested the Court’s jurisdiction to extradite him. His argument was that the United States Court did not have jurisdiction to extradite him because there was no active treaty in force between the United States and Colombia. In support of that position, Dr. Arias submitted a wealth of evidence, including an affidavit of former President Alvaro Uribe, who was present in Court today to support Dr. Arias.
After hearing extensive argument, Magistrate Judge John O’Sullivan indicated that he was leaning in favor of ruling for Dr. Arias. Judge O’Sullivan wanted more time to consider Dr. Arias’ position, but allowed him to be free on bond as he considered whether to dismiss the extradition request. Dr. Arias will be released tonight and will be with his wife and two children in South Florida. There is no time-table for Judge O’Sullivan’s final decision on whether there is jurisdiction to extradite Dr. Arias.
Dr. Arias was the Colombian Minister of Agriculture until February 2009, when he decided to run for the Conservative Party nomination for president in 2010. Dr. Arias was viewed as President Uribe’s protégé and likely successor, and therefore, an enemy of the FARC. If elected as president, Dr. Arias would have continued Uribe’s program of crippling the FARC, rather than negotiating with them. As such, Andres Felipe Arias, as the potential President of Colombia, was an imminent threat to the terrorist group.
Dr. Arias was taken out of the presidential election when baseless corruption charges emerged — false allegations that were contrived and fueled by his political opponents. His case was prosecuted by two anti-Uribe attorneys general, one of whom is married to a man with ties to guerilla groups targeted by the Uribe administration. It is undisputed that Mr. Arias did not obtain any financial benefit, he did not receive one penny, there were no kickbacks and no quid pro quo. Contrary to due process requirements here in the United States, there was no jury and no appeal was permitted.
Before his sentence was announced in 2014, Dr. Arias and his family came to the United States to seek asylum — with the blessing of the United States. The U.S. Embassy in Bogota issued him a visa and accepted him into the country, knowing that his prosecution in Colombia was politically motivated. His asylum petition is still pending and the U.S. even recently granted Dr. Arias and his family working permits.
For further information, please contact Dr. Arias’ lead lawyer, David Oscar Markus, at firstname.lastname@example.org
On behalf of Dr. Arias:
David Oscar Markus, Esq.
Lauren Doyle, Esq.
Professor Ricardo Bascuas, Esq.
Marc Seitles, Esq.
Seitles & Litwin
Here is the Daily Business Review article on what occurred in court:
Colombian Politician Fighting Extradition Free on $1M Bond
Samantha Joseph 11/21/2016
Andres Felipe Arias can add one thing to his Thanksgiving list: freedom.
The onetime Colombian presidential candidate and former minister of agriculture is free on a hefty $1.1 million bond in Miami-Dade while fighting extradition from the U.S. on corruption charges.
Arias won his release from the Federal Detention Center on a $100,000 bond paid to the court and a $1 million personal surety after successful arguments before U.S. Magistrate Judge John O’Sullivan Nov. 17.
“We are thankful that Andres is home with his family during the Thanksgiving holiday,” said his attorney, prominent criminal defense lawyer David Oscar Markus.
Arias was jailed in Miami on an extradition warrant. He faces a 17-year prison term in his country for allegedly embezzling and redirecting millions earmarked for impoverished rural farmers to wealthy landowners. He filed a petition to be released on bond, and sought to vacate his arrest warrant for lack of jurisdiction, arguing the U.S. and Colombia have no valid extradition treaty.
Arias won bail with help from a powerful ally, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, who attended the hearing to support his onetime protÉgÉ.
“Although the two countries send individuals to the requesting country, especially to combat narcotrafficking … this is not done pursuant to a treaty,” Uribe wrote in a declaration that acknowledges nearly 1,200 extraditions from Colombia to the U.S.
“Because the treaty was never legally ratified, there was no need to give notice (either under the treaty or the Vienna Convention) that Colombia was terminating or suspending operation of the treaty,” he wrote. “There was nothing to terminate or suspend.”
The question is whether O’Sullivan will agree with Arias and Uribe, or find for prosecutors, who say the two countries have a long-standing agreement and that Arias’ alleged misdeeds led to financial gains for Uribe.
Prosecutors claim Arias fled the country in 2014 on the eve of his conviction, and that the wealthy landowners who received the redirected funds made hefty financial contributions to Uribe’s political campaigns.
Arias was minister of agriculture until February 2009. He ran for the Conservative Party nomination for president in 2010 as Uribe’s likely successor. A Colombian court handed down a 17-year sentence in the corruption case after he left the country, and banned him from running for political office for 18 years. U.S. federal agents arrested him Aug. 24 at his home in suburban Broward County, where he had relocated and was working as a consultant.
Defense attorneys claim the accusations come from vengeful political rivals who raised no allegations of kickbacks of personal financial gain. They say Arias has a pending petition for asylum in the U.S. after escaping unfair prosecution by state attorneys with ties to the FARC, a left-wing rebel army that Arias’ party worked to dismantle. They claim he fled Colombia to seek political asylum with the help of the U.S. embassy in Bogota, which renewed his tourist visa while he was on trial for corruption. The U.S. also granted Arias a work permit after he and his family arrived in Florida.
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