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Gov. Christie Demands Fugitive's Extradition From Cuba, Cuba Says No

Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, was convicted of killing a New Jersey state trooper in 1973 but escaped from prison. She was offered asylum in Cuba and she will stay there, officials said.

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Update: Dec. 23 at 12:19 p.m.

The AP reported that Cuba denied Christie's demand:

Cuba said Monday that it has a right to grant asylum to U.S. fugitives, the clearest sign yet that the communist government has no intention of extraditing America's most-wanted woman despite the warming of bilateral ties.

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Asked if returning fugitives was open to negotiation, Cuba's head of North American affairs, Josefina Vidal, told The Associated Press that "every nation has sovereign and legitimate rights to grant political asylum to people it considers to have been persecuted. ... That's a legitimate right."

"We've explained to the U.S. government in the past that there are some people living in Cuba to whom Cuba has legitimately granted political asylum," Vidal said.

"There's no extradition treaty in effect between Cuba and the U.S.," she added.

Gov. Chris Christie wants President Obama to demand that Cuba extradite a convicted New Jersey state trooper killer who is hiding in the island nation.

Christie sent Obama a letter in regards to Joanne Chesimard, also known as Assata Shakur, on Friday. Earlier in the week Obama announced a historic effort to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

"Chesimard is a convicted cop killer who executed New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster in 1973 before escaping from prison and fleeing to Cuba, and has been provided safe haven by the government there ever since. She is designated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as a domestic terrorist and the first woman ever placed on the FBI's Most Wanted Terrorist List," according to a news release from Christie's office.

In the letter, Christie also said he doesn't agree with Obama's new policy toward Cuba:

"I do not share your view that restoring diplomatic relations without a clear commitment from the Cuban government of the steps they will take to reverse decades of human rights violations will result in a better and more just Cuba for its people.

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Cuba's provision of safe harbor to Chesimard by providing political asylum to a convicted cop killer, and her ability to elude justice, is an affront to every resident of our state, our country, and in particular, the men and women of the New Jersey State Police, who have tirelessly tried to bring this killer back to justice. I urge you to demand the immediate return of Chesimard before any further consideration of restoration of diplomatic relations with the Cuban Government.

Christie is a likely GOP presidential contender.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General James Cole told a news conference Monday morning that the new ties with Cuba will make it more likely that Havana will return fugitives sought by American officials.

"Certainly, we're working with that country and every country to get back fugitives who we have charges against," he said, according to Reuters.

"I think the fact that we're going to be having better relationships with Cuba will increase our likelihood of being successful in getting those people back."

Tom Namako is the deputy news director for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.

Contact Tom Namako at tom.namako@buzzfeed.com.

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