Jailed ex-Panama president released from US jail on $1 mn bond

Former Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli -- here in a 2016 picture with footbal fans in Chicago -- is fighting extradition to his home country to face corruption charges

Miami (AFP) – A US judge has ordered ex-Panamanian president Ricardo Martinelli released from prison on a $1 million bail as he fights extradition to his home country, where the former leader faces corruption and domestic espionage charges.

Martinelli, president of Panama from 2009 to 2014, was arrested in June 2017 at the  request of the Panamanian government and held in a federal prison in Miami. 

He can now return to his Miami residence, but must surrender his passport and periodically report to the authorities, federal judge Marcia Cooke ruled.

Prosecutors, however, remain convinced that Martinelli, 65, is a flight risk. They said they would appeal the ruling to a higher federal court.

Martinelli is accused in Panama of corruption and setting up an domestic espionage network that spied on 150 people, including journalists and opposition leaders.