Ex-Panama president to stop fighting extradition from US

Panamanian former president Ricardo Martinelli, pictured here in 2015 in Guatemala, has been extradited from the United States to face charges of spying on journalists and politicians in his homeland

Panama's former president Ricardo Martinelli, currently in a US prison and wanted in his own country on corruption and espionage charges, announced Thursday he would end his fight against extradition.

Martinelli, 66, is accused of embezzling public funds to create a network to spy on his political opponents while he was president from 2009 to 2014.

Martinelli's lawyers filed a motion in federal court in Miami indicating he would not move forward with an appeal of an August 2017 ruling that he could be extradited, court documents showed.

The former president, who had gone into exile in Miami in 2015, was arrested on June 12, 2017, and has been in federal prison ever since.

Now, his case will pass to the State Department, which will decide whether to go ahead with the extradition and under what conditions.

Lawyer Sidney Sitton told AFP Martinelli's goal was to "remain in the hands of the State Department to be sent to Panama," but under a clause that guarantees he will be prosecuted for only the crimes on which he will be extradited, and no others.

"I am accepting what the extradition treaty of 1905 says with its specialty clause. It is up to the State Department to make the final decision," Martinelli wrote in a letter dated Thursday.