Former President of Panama Ricardo Martinelli fighting extradition from US in spying case

MIAMI (AP) -- A former president of Panama is fighting an effort to send him from the U.S. back to his homeland to face charges in a case of political espionage.

Ricardo Martinelli made his initial appearance Tuesday before a federal judge in Miami following an arrest on an extradition warrant from Panama. The judge set a June 20 hearing to determine if the former president can be released on bond as he challenges extradition.

Martinelli was arrested Monday at the request of Panama's government.

The former president failed to show up at a December 2015 court hearing there on charges that include illegally monitoring phone and other conversations of at least 150 people with an extensive surveillance system he created with public funds. He denies wrongdoing and is seeking asylum.

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