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US agrees to extradite former Colombian minister

[WASHINGTON] The United States has agreed to extradite a former Colombian minister sentenced to 17 years in prison at home for corruption, the South American country's embassy in Washington announced Thursday.

The mission said it had been notified that the US government would carry out the extradition request from Colombia's Supreme Court, issued in 2014.

Andres Felipe Arias, a close advisor to 2002-10 president Alvaro Uribe, was arrested in southern Florida by American authorities in 2016.

The former agriculture minister was sentenced in July 2014 to 17 years and four months in prison, plus a US$16 million fine, for embezzling public funds and corruption.

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But before learning the verdict, Arias fled to the United States with his family, where he applied for asylum from political persecution.

A federal judge ruled in 2017 that Arias could be extradited, a decision upheld on Monday by the court of appeals in Atlanta.

Arias's wife Catalina Serrano urged his supporters via social media to ask President Donald Trump to grant her husband asylum.

Mr Uribe has repeatedly denounced Arias's sentence as "unjust."

AFP