US Fugitive Caught After 41 Years in Portugal

Killer, hijacker George Wright fighting extradition
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2011 6:14 PM CDT

(Newser) – This might be the end of the road for fugitive George Wright, but what a road it's been. Authorities arrested the 68-year-old in Portugal yesterday after 41 years on the lam. Even the bare bones of his rap sheet nearly defy belief, as CNN and AP recount: In 1962, he murdered a gas station owner (a highly decorated WWII vet) during a robbery; he escaped from prison in 1970 (reportedly by stealing the warden's car), then went underground with the Black Liberation Army. In 1972, while dressed as a priest, he and others hijacked a plane to Algiers (after making FBI agents dress in bathing suits to deliver ransom money).

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Algeria returned the plane and money but allowed the hijackers to disappear, which they did with help from Black Panther activist Eldridge Cleaver, who was living in the country. Wright remained on the loose for four decades until a dogged New Jersey corrections officer got a lead (possibly because Wright contacted relatives in the US) that resulted in his arrest. Wright is fighting extradition back to the US. One other tidbit: The 1972 hijacking led to stricter airport security rules, requiring for the first time that all passengers and their handbags be screened. (Read more fugitive stories.)

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