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Cuba Thaw May Bring FBI's 'Most Wanted' Woman to Prison

New Jersey hopes to extradite convicted cop killer Assata Shakur
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 19, 2014 2:42 PM CST

(Newser) – Some Cubans may have celebrated a major overhaul in relations with the US this week, but Assata Shakur likely wasn't among them. Shakur, the first woman on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist list, escaped prison in 1979 after being convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper and has been holed up in Cuba since the 1980s under political asylum, the Guardian reports. Police have been trying to extradite Shakur, who went by Joanne Chesimard in the US, for years to no avail, but a patched relationship between the two countries provides "an opportunity to bring her back to the United States to finish her sentence," New Jersey police say. Shakur—who happened to be Tupac Shakur's step-aunt and godmother—says she is innocent.

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Prosecutors, however, say Shakur killed Werner Foerster in 1973 when she and two Black Panther members were pulled over, apparently with a broken taillight. As a Black Panther activist, Shakur likely fell victim to the FBI's Cold War-era COINTEL program, which sometimes used illegal operations to observe political groups, Good magazine reports. The Guardian points to "irregularities" in her case, noting that her lawyers' offices were suspected of being bugged. A Change.org petition is asking President Obama to pardon Shakur, but police seem as determined as ever. A rep says the NJ attorney general's office is working to find Shakur her "rightful place in a New Jersey prison." (Read more Assata Shakur stories.)

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