Hearing :: Justice in the International Extradition System, The Case of George Wright and Beyond


 Commission on Security & Cooperation in Europe:  
U.S. Helsinki Commission

“Justice in the International Extradition System: 
The Case of George Wright and Beyond”

Committee Members Present:
Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ);
Representative Steve Cohen (D-TN)

Ann Patterson, Daughter of Walter Patterson;
R. J. Gallagher, Retired FBI Special Agent;
Jonathan Winer, Senior Director, APCO Worldwide, Washington, D.C., and former 
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for International Law Enforcement

The Hearing Was Held at 2:00 p.m. EDT in Room 2203, 
Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 
Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chairing 

Date:  Wednesday, July 11, 2012

REPRESENTATIVE CHRIS SMITH (R-NJ):  The commission will come to order.  And I 
want to thank and welcome all of you to this very important hearing of the 
commission on security and cooperation in Europe.  

In September of 2011, hopes were raised high when the FBI announced that George 
Wright, a fugitive for over 41 years, had been located in Portugal and had been 
taken into custody pursuant to a provisional arrest from the United States – 
request from the United States.  There were hopes for accountability, some 
justice and, for the family he murdered in Wall Township in 1962, for at least 
some closure to a nightmare.  

In 1963 George Wright was convicted in connection with a gas station robbery, 
during which Walter Patterson, a decorated World War II veteran and Bronze Star 
recipient – and that’s him in that picture, obviously – was beaten and shot to 
death.  Wright was subsequently sentenced to 15 to 30 years, but in 1970 
escaped from Leesburg State Prison, now renamed Bayside State Prison, located 
in New Jersey.  In 1972 he and four other men hijacked a Detroit-to-Miami 
flight.  They flew the plane to Algeria, where Algerian authorities allowed 
them to disappear.  

In 1976 four of the hijackers were located and arrested in France.  France 
refused to extradite them to the United States, but tried them in France 
instead.  Following convictions, two of the hijackers spent a mere three years 
in prison, and two others spent two and a half years.  George Wright, however, 
was not among those caught.  For 41 years George Wright's whereabouts were 
unknown, and he built a life built on lies and deception.

When George Wright was located in Portugal last year, the Patterson family 
naturally thought that, as convicted felon and prison escapee, he would be 
speedily returned to the United States to finish serving the sentence he 
received for the murder of Walter Patterson.  Portugal, after all, is a close 
ally, committed to the rule of law and a long-standing extradition agreement 
with the United States.  Shockingly, a Portuguese court rejected the United 
States' extradition request last November, and efforts to reverse that decision 
have now apparently ceased.  The Patterson family, so deeply wounded by the 
murder of their beloved family member and then by the murderer’s escape – and 
now are bewildered and angry at Portugal's refusal to extradite George Wright.

Today's hearing will examine what happened in this case – and it is the first 
in a series – and what can be done to promptly return Wright to an American 
prison and the broader question it raises about the international extradition 

On behalf of the commission, I welcome Ann Patterson, Walter Patterson’s 
daughter, who along with her family have suffered irreparable harm from the 
brutal violence committed against her beloved father by George Wright.  Words 
are inadequate to convey my and the commission’s abiding respect, empathy and 
condolences to you and your family on your excruciating loss and my 
disappointment, which I share with you, in Portugal.  

Ann will testify in part that the $70 that George Wright and Walter McGhee 
stole wasn’t enough.  They had to beat my father, she says, beyond recognition. 
 George Wright was identified by the imprints of the stock of his gun on my 
father’s skin, she’ll tell us.  Her testimony is riveting.  Her testimony opens 
up and gives us an insight into the enormous pain that she and the family have 

The commission will also hear from R J. Gallagher, a retired FBI agent who has 
done extensive work on the case, breakthrough work on the case, and has had an 
extraordinary career with the FBI.  So we thank you, the commission, for your 
service on behalf of all Americans for the wonderful law enforcement work you 
have done over the course of your lifetime.  

Finally, we will hear from Jonathan Winer, a senior director of APCO Worldwide, 
Washington, D.C., and former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for 
international law enforcement.  And also, he worked for 10 years for Senator 
Currie and has been tenacious working on law enforcement issues, particularly 
at State.

On George Wright, Mr. Winer exposes the utter indefensibility of the Portuguese 
court's decision not to extradite George Wright; why Portugal can still do the 
right thing by revoking his citizenship, which he secured through immigration 
fraud; and how the U.S. can and must pursue Wright through INTERPOL and many 
other very important recommendations that I hope that the State Department, the 
Justice Department, Congress, all of us take to heart.
Finally, let me note that the commission had requested a representative of the 
Obama administration to be here to answer questions of what has and what can be 
done to bring George Wright to justice.  The commission was informed that Bruce 
Swartz, deputy assistant attorney general of the Criminal Division of the 
Department of Justice, wasn’t available for today’s hearing.  So on behalf of 
the commission, I will reissue our request for Mr. Swartz or any other 
appropriate official from the administration to testify at a subsequent hearing.

In like manner, the commission invited the Portuguese ambassador, Nuno Brito, 
who was also unavailable due to a scheduling conflict.  And like with Mr. 
Swartz or whoever the administration would like to send, the commission will 
request Ambassador Brito’s testimony at a follow-up hearing that will be 
scheduled around his availability as well.

Again, I’d like to now turn to my good friend and colleague Mr. Cohen and ask 
for any opening comments that he might have.


I’m interested in hearing the testimony of the witnesses.  And to Ms. 
Patterson, I express my regrets.  It’s been a long time, but to lose your 
husband – and the person who commits such a crime should be held responsible.  
And what he did in escaping and hijacking that plane is reprehensible as well.  

There is – reading the record, there’s obviously some positions that the 
Portuguese government is taking that seems to be adverse to what I think is 
common sense in international law and Helsinki Commission accords.  And I hope 
that we can get to the bottom of the situation.  But that what he did to your 
husband is an offense, and air piracy and hijacking, all of which should be 
extradition offenses.  And the Portuguese government, I believe – don’t want to 
pre-judge it, but I believe – should extradite him so that he answers for the 
crimes he has committed and the harm that he’s done.   

So I look forward to the testimony and appreciate Mr. Smith bringing this 
hearing, as he always does.  And this is bipartisanship.  While the Obama 
administration may not be here, I assure you that it’s not because they’re not 
interested and this is bipartisan and that we’re concerned about it as well.

Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.

REP. SMITH:  Thank you, Mr. Cohen, for your comments.

And I’d like to now introduce our witnesses, beginning first with Ann 
Patterson.  And you know, when we asked how she would like to be described, she 
just said daughter of Walter Patterson.  And frankly, that is enough, you know, 
a woman who has children and grandchildren, some of whom are with us today, and 
a woman, like her family, has suffered irreparable harm.

We’ll then hear from Mr. Gallagher, who I mentioned earlier is a former FBI 
special agent from 1986 to 2011, retired just short of the 25 years.  And he 
also served as an officer for the United States Navy for five years.

And then, Jonathan, you’ll be next, if you would.  And I just would point out a 
couple of things from his resume.  He actually was – received a distinguished 
honor from the secretary of state, Madeline Albright, for his service in the 
State Department.  The award stated that he created the capacity of the 
department and the U.S. government to deal with international crime and 
criminal justice as important foreign policy functions and that, quote, “the 
scope and significance of his achievements are virtually unprecedented for any 
single official.”

So three very, very distinguished people.

And Ann, if you could proceed.

ANN PATTERSON:  Mr. Chairman, my name is Ann Patterson, and I am the daughter 
of Walter Patterson.  My father was robbed, brutally beaten, and shot in his 
gas station in Wall Township, New Jersey, on November 23rd, 1962.  He died of 
his injuries on November 25th, 1962.  I was 14 years old, and my sister Kaye 
was 13.

My father was a quiet, sensitive person.  The gas station was his American 
dream, and he was so happy to be able to have his own business.  He worked 16- 
to 18-hour days to support our family.  Daddy's name is also on the Patterson 
honor roll of soldiers, part of a family that has fought in all our country's 
wars.  At age 21, he went to Europe and served our country for four years 
during World War II.  He was a TEC 5 and a truck driver/mechanic and was 
awarded the Bronze Star for meritorious service.

It was the day after Thanksgiving, and Daddy had come home for supper.  It was 
about 4:30 when he got into his truck to go back to work.  I stood at the 
kitchen window waving goodbye, and that was the last time I saw him alive.  
About five hours later the phone rang, and I answered it.  Aunt Jennie said, 
Walt's been shot, and I screamed, no, no, no, and called my mother to the 
phone.  I was crying, told my sister, and she started crying.

My mother was not well.  She called Uncle Charles to take her to the hospital.  
When she got there, she couldn't recognize my father.  She later told us they 
had beaten him to a pulp.  The doctor operated from about 10:30 p.m. to 6:30 
a.m. and told my mother he thought he had gotten all the bone fragments.  When 
I asked her what Daddy had to say, she told me that he couldn't talk because 
his jaw was wired shut.  He was wild with pain and could not be given anything 
for it since he had head injuries.  He had to be restrained in the bed.  The 
doctor told my mother that seizures were to be expected with this type of 
injury, and Daddy had a seizure on Saturday night.

Kaye and I had been scared to death to stay home alone on Friday night, so we 
rode to the hospital with Uncle Dick and Aunt Ginny as they took my mother to 
see Daddy on Saturday night.  Aunt Ginny asked my mother if she had told us 
what we were going to see, but my mother did not allow us to see Daddy, and we 
waited in the car.  Daddy was in critical condition, and no one except 
immediate family was allowed in.  The doctor told my mother that if Daddy came 
through this, he would be a vegetable and need a lot of care.

On Sunday evening the doctor was talking to my mother in the hallway about my 
father's condition when the nurse came to them and told them he had passed 
away.  They allowed my mother to spend some time alone with him.  When she came 
home, Uncle Dick and Aunt Ginny were each holding her arms and helping her to 
the house.  I looked at Kaye, and I said, Daddy died.

The viewing was Tuesday, and the funeral home asked for a photo of Daddy so 
they could make him look like the picture.  Does that sound odd to you?  My 
father was unrecognizable in his casket.  His wavy black hair with a touch of 
gray was replaced with straight black hair combed back.  His face was all 
uneven and caked with makeup.  I knew he was my Daddy by looking at his hands.

The $70 that George Wright and Walter McGhee stole wasn't enough.  They had to 
beat my father beyond recognition.  George Wright was identified by the 
imprints of the stock of his gun on my father's skin.  If there had not been 
such a beating, the doctors could have operated on the bullet wound to the 
abdomen, and it is quite possible that Daddy would still be with us today.

For Kaye and me, the nightmare was just beginning.  Since our mother was not 
well, she could not take care of us.  We were told later that we would be sent 
to Clinton, a home for wayward girls.  I later found out that Clinton was in 
fact a prison for girls.  There is something wrong with sending the victims to 
prison while the criminals do not have to be incarcerated for their actions.  I 
thank God that Uncle Dick stepped in to take care of us.

Our mother was very ill with a heart condition, and her death was hastened by 
losing Daddy.  She passed away 15 months later on February 26, 1964, leaving 
Kaye and me orphaned.  In our house lived my mother's aunt and uncle, both of 
whom passed away during that 15-month period.  In just over a year we 
experienced the deaths of all four people we lived with and lost our home.  We 
were robbed of normal teenage years.  There was no counseling available in 
1962.  We were left to deal with all this sorrow on our own.  We tried to be 
strong for our mother while she was still alive.

It has not been easy to relive all these events during the past 10 months.  The 
FBI victims specialist suggested I see a counselor, which was beneficial to me. 
 One of the problems that came out was the nightmares that I suffered from for 
years after my father's death.  The counselor said that I had had 
post-traumatic stress after I described the nightmares to her.  I also 
developed asthma and colitis within a few weeks of Daddy's death.

The premeditated actions of the four individuals involved in my father's murder 
have negatively impacted five generations of the Patterson family.  I have 
already spoken about my parents and my sister and me.  My mother's uncle who 
lived with us refused food when he learned of this tragedy.  He said, I don't 
want to stay in a world where this is allowed to happen.  And he died four 
months later.  My grandfather never spoke my father's name again without crying 
and told me they didn't have to beat him up so bad.  My father's seven 
grandchildren were deprived of a loving grandfather, and they are angry at the 
injustice exhibited in the past 10 months.

But the saddest to me are the hurt reactions of some of my father's 14 
great-grandchildren.  One of them saw the clip on TV of the capture and asked, 
what is wrong with people, not knowing it was about her great-grandfather.  
Another one curled up in a corner of the couch and, crying, asked if he could 
escape again.  Five generations of fear and hurt are five too many.  

George Wright cannot erase his life of crime.  He is fraudulently a Portuguese 
citizen.  Four aliases do not change the fact that he was born George Edward 
Wright in the United States of America and committed crimes during his years 
here.  When he chose the crime, he also chose the punishment, as they go hand 
in hand.  George Wright did not give my father a choice on November 23rd, 1962, 
and so he should not have a choice about not serving his sentence.  He does not 
owe Portugal time; he owes the United States.

George Wright is not sorry for what he did.  There has been no apology to the 
Patterson family.  On the contrary, he has made this all about himself and 
basked in the limelight.  To want to profit from a book and movie highlighting 
his heinous acts against the Patterson family is a slap in the face.  He is not 
the victim here; we are.  George Wright is a convicted murderer who lived a 
life of violence, then fled and lived a life of lies.  Now his past has caught 
up with him, and he needs to come back here and serve his sentence.

In light of all the recent media coverage, I have been approached by many 
people who have expressed their disgust toward this man and this situation.  I 
feel it is a disgrace that our justice system has failed in assuring a proper 
punishment for this crime.  This whole case sets a terrible precedent for this 
country, both here and worldwide.  It is a negative towards decent citizens and 
a positive for criminals.

The failure of extradition has affected us in the following ways:  one, fear of 
a known criminal on the loose; two, fear of reprisal from criminal – both of 
these fears are now 50 years long – three, makes a mockery of the crime against 
my father – did his life matter; four, has perpetuated our pain and loss; five, 
loss of any kind of confidence in the criminal justice system, from the local 
branch which gave too lenient a sentence to the state branch that put a 
convicted murderer on a minimum security work farm to the federal branch who 
have backed down to Portugal in the matter of extradition.  The case was 
dropped before the final appeal was filed.  It is one thing to do all you can, 
another to give up before you exhaust all avenues.

I have been asked if there are any other – I have asked if there are any other 
avenues of justice such as withholding aid and have not been given any answer.  
Don't we have a right to seek justice for our father?  Our family has been 
emotionally affected by injustice in the following ways:  One, no closure – 
this is still an emotionally draining, open wound; two, we have family members 
and friends across this entire nation who are appalled at the injustice of 
trying to obtain justice; three, we are not happy that George Wright wants to 
do a book and a movie and capitalize on his inhumane treatment of our father; 
four, we were extremely upset when we read in the newspaper that the final 
appeal had been dropped – I was told that I would be notified of any decision 
so that I wouldn't be blindsided upon learning something from the media – five, 
on a personal level, this has split my family in two.  Some members support 
efforts to obtain justice, and some cannot emotionally face the details of this 
crime to even talk about it.

What can be done?  Here are my suggestions:  Number one, reinstate the death 
penalty for criminals convicted of heinous crimes.  Such a strong penalty may 
act as a deterrent.  Two, put pressure on Portugal.  I understand there is an 
extradition treaty from 1907 to this effect.  Three, do not send any financial 
aid to Portugal.  Four, form a committee at the state level to double-check 
paper work so that errors like this can't happen again.  Five, support and pass 
Illinois Senator Richard Durbin's Bringing Fugitives to Justice Act.  And six, 
nothing that any of us say or do will bring my father back, but if we can look 
ahead and help the countless number of children who are similarly affected or 
will be affected by senseless crimes, then all of our efforts will not have 
been done in vain.

There is no conclusion to my story.  It has not occurred yet, for the 
conclusion now rests in the hands of the politicians.  The FBI and the U.S. 
Marshals have done their job in locating this fugitive, and we thank them.  I 
have done all I can by telling about our family events from November 23rd to 
November 25th, 1962, and the impact of this despicable crime.  On behalf of the 
Patterson family, I ask you to please bring justice for the untimely death of 
my father, Walter Patterson.  Thank you.

REP. SMITH:  Ms. Patterson, thank you very much for that extraordinarily moving 
testimony and the tenacity that you have brought to trying to bring this man to 
justice, and for thanking the FBI and the marshal service for the extraordinary 
work they’ve done in tracking him down.  We need to do our job, those of us in 
the executive as well as, in our case, the legislative branch.  And I thank you 
for that.

I’d like to now – we do have a vote on right now, but we do have some time.  
Mr. Gallagher, if you could proceed with your testimony and – thank you.

R.J. GALLAGHER:  Yes.  Good afternoon.  Good afternoon.  My name is R.J. 
Gallagher.  I’m a retired FBI agent.  And at the risk of some redundancy, I’d 
like to acquaint members with the background of George Wright.

On Friday night of Thanksgiving weekend in 1962, George Wright and two others 
robbed and mortally wounded Walter Patterson, a service station proprietor in 
Wall Township, New Jersey.  That night, Wright and his co-defendants wore nylon 
stockings over their faces and wore gloves on their hands.  Wright carried a 
sawed-off rifle, his co-defendant a cheap handgun.  They brought with them 
white adhesive tape for binding of their victims.  Earlier that same day, 
Wright and his co-defendants had cut down the rifle, bought ammunition and had 
test-fired the weapon.  They also had driven around the Jersey shore area 
looking for prospective places to rob.

At around 9:30 p.m. that night, when Wright and a co-defendant entered Walt 
Patterson’s Esso gas station on Route 33, they were committing their second 
armed robbery of the night.  This robbery, the one about to take place, unlike 
the first did not go as planned.  For it would appear that Walt Patterson was 
not sufficiently compliant or quick enough to the demands of the robbers, and a 
fight ensued.

Wright and his co-defendant repeatedly rained blows to the head and shoulders 
of Walter Patterson with their weapons.  At some point the handgun carried by 
the co-defendant fired, and Walter Patterson was struck in the abdomen.  He 
fell to the floor.  The two robbers fled, taking with them about $70.  Both 
robbers were very aware that their victim was shot and wounded, yet they left 
him alone on the floor of his gas station.  They did not place an anonymous 
call to anyone to get Walter Patterson medical attention.  Instead, using the 
money proceeds from their two robberies that evening, they went out and 
partied.  They dined, they drank and they played pool until 2:00 or 3:00 in the 

Investigation over the next two days led to the identification and arrest of 
the persons involved in the robbery/murder.  This included George Wright.  All 
the physical evidence was recovered:  guns, stocking masks, gloves, ammunition. 
 All the arrested gave full confessions.  On January 28th, 1963, Wright pled 
“non vult” to a murder indictment.  By this plea Wright did not contest his 
guilt, and he waived his right to trial.  This plea allowed Wright to receive a 
30-year maximum sentence, as opposed to life had he gone to trial and been 
convicted.  On February 15th, 1963, Wright was sentenced to a prison term of 
not less than 15 years and not more than 30 years.

At this point I'd like to just take a break from Wright's crime chronology and 
state that I have read numerous – I have read in the – in numerous media 
accounts subsequent to Wright’s arrest that Wright has stated that since he did 
not fire the shot that killed Walter Patterson, he is not guilty of the crime 
of murder.  First, both of Wright’s co-defendants stated that in the immediate 
aftermath of this crime, Wright told them he had fired.  Nine bullets from the 
sawed-off rifle Wright carried were found on the floor of the service station.

The presiding judge at the time of Wright’s sentencing went on record stating 
that these nine rounds on the floor indicated Wright’s intentions to – Wright’s 
intention and attempt to fire his weapon but that the weapon had malfunctioned. 
 But regardless of Wright’s intent, attempt or belief that he had fired or that 
he had not fired, it was the law of the state of New Jersey that if a person 
committing a robbery kills another or death ensues during the robbery, that 
person is guilty of murder.

I have also read that there is to be some mitigation for the crime when 
considering the age of George Wright, as he was 19 years old at the time.  Here 
it should be noted that Walter Patterson, his victim, was barely a much riper 
21 when he entered the U.S. Army shortly after Pearl Harbor.  Walter Patterson 
then served in the Army for near four years until the war was over.  Of his 
time in the Army, 2 ½ years was spent over in Europe in the eastern theater of 

Back to the Wright timeline:  On August 22nd, 1970, Wright and others escaped 
from the New Jersey State Prison.  At this time Wright had served seven years, 
seven months and 25 days.  Wright has remained a fugitive from U.S. justice 
since this date.

On July 31st, 1972, Wright and four others, to include one of the persons he 
escaped with, hijacked a Delta Airlines DC-8 en route from Detroit to Miami.  
The hijackers were accompanied by three of their small children.  Wright was 
dressed in the garb of religious clergy.  Wright was the eldest and the leader 
of the hijackers.  He wielded a handgun, gave the orders and issued the 
threats.  He pointed a cocked weapon to the head of the airline pilot, Captain 
William May.  Once landed in Miami, Wright demanded $1 million and threatened 
that if his demands were not met, he would toss bodies out of the plane.

Wright and his fellow hijackers received the million-dollar ransom, and they 
released approximately 80 passengers.  The flight clue (ph) was not – the 
flight crew was not released and were forced to fly the plane and the hijackers 
first to Boston and then on to Algiers, Algeria.  Algerian authorities seized 1 
million – seized the $1 million and the plane, returning them both to the U.S.  
The hijackers, however, were allowed their freedom and eventually made their 
way to France.

Wright and the four other adults were all indicted for air piracy in the United 
States on August 3rd, 1972.  While in Algeria, Wright and the other hijackers 
made a videoed press statement, and as part of that statement the speaker 
stated, among other things, that the hijackers were revolutionaries.  In May of 
1976, four of the hijackers – the lone exception being George Wright – were 
arrested by French authorities for the 1972 air piracy.  In 1978, France tried 
these four for the air piracy, and they were all convicted of same.  And so to 
this day, Wright has not served his sentence for his homicide conviction, nor 
has he been tried for the indicted charge of air piracy.

My involvement in this matter began in 1994 when I reopened the New Jersey 
fugitive investigation regarding Wright.  I worked it until my retirement in 
July 2011.  The United States Marshals and the New Jersey Department of 
Corrections joined the investigation in approximately 2003.  Since the case was 
reopened, most of all the – most all the techniques used in fugitive 
investigations were employed.  These would include but not be limited to:  
interviews, both domestic and abroad; notification to national law – to 
international law enforcement; court orders; human intelligence; cooperation of 
foreign law enforcement.  Specifically, fingerprints, age-enhanced sketches and 
computer images were produced and distributed.  The United States Marshals 
commissioned the making of an age-enhanced bust.  All three agencies played a 
vital and significant part in this investigation.  And just as an aside, to my 
mind it was a model of organic and ad hoc interagency cooperation.

In March of 2010 the Portuguese police notified the FBI legal attaché in Madrid 
that they had positively identified the person living in Portugal under the 
name of José Luis Jorge dos Santos as George Wright.  This they did, unknown to 
Wright, by comparison of photographs they had on file for Santos with those of 
George Wright.

In September of 2010, six months after the positive identification, myself and 
attorneys from the Department of Justice Office of International Affairs met 
with Portuguese law enforcement and prosecutors in Lisbon, Portugal.  The 
purpose of this meeting was for the United States to seek Portuguese legal 
input and to work together so that the United States might produce an 
extradition request with the greatest chance of success.

I would characterize these meetings as both positive and productive.  All the 
parties agreed that extradition could proceed for U.S. person George Wright.  
Further, there was agreement that George Wright was using a made-up name of 
José Santos and had in fact provided false pedigree information to the 
Portuguese government as regards to his name, place of birth and parentage.  
One issue remained unresolved.  Portugal saw as barrier to extradition Wright's 
exposure to a 25-year sentence of incarceration for an air piracy conviction. 
They viewed this as the equivalent of a death sentence, and therefore that 
would serve as basis for the denial.

Moving along, well over a year had passed since the positive identification had 
been made, and this issue proved to be intractable.  And no extradition request 
had yet to be submitted.  In May of 2010, the decision was made to tender the 
extradition request based solely on Wright's homicide conviction.  I 
participated in this decision and supported it fully.  In fact, it was probably 
done at my instigation; so if hindsight determines this is a bad call, I am 
solely to blame.

Portuguese law enforcement arrested George Wright in September of 2011.  Since 
his arrest, the Portuguese courts have denied the United States extradition 
request for Wright.  It is my understanding they cited the following in their 
ruling:  One, too much time had passed, and there must be closure to criminal 
cases.  Two, Wright's integration into Portuguese society demanded that 
extradition be denied on humanitarian grounds.  Both these two reasons cited 
per DOJ are not – per DOJ are just not recognized as basis for denial of 
extradition per our treaty with Portugal.  And third, the court found that 
Wright is a Portuguese citizen.  This is where the matter now stands.

Looking forward and beyond John – George Wright, each nation is free to choose 
its own criteria for citizenship.  This is how it is and how it should always 
be.  But it would seem that each nation would have self-interest in seeking an 
obligation from prospective citizens seeking naturalization, for them to tell 
the truth regarding their identity and any information they give the 
government.  This would obviously provide for the safety and security of the 
nation’s own security.  George Wright provided false information to Portuguese 
authorities, it would seem, because if he provided his true identity, not only 
would citizenship be denied but he would probably be arrested.

In August of 1972 George Wright was indicted on the criminal charge of air 
piracy.  If one looks at the elements of the crime Wright committed, this same 
act committed today would potentially be charged as an act of terrorism.  And 
for such a charge, the extradition treaty between U.S. and Portugal states that 
Portuguese citizens will – can and will be extradited for terrorism.  I 
actually could not imagine that this crime, taking place today, would not be 
charged as terrorism.

And specifically with return to George Wright, I’ve seen a – numerous media 
accounts post-arrest that suggest for some time he has led a good life and that 
he has in fact rehabilitated.  This is perhaps a valid argument, and he might 
have a case for such.  But there remains only one place that can decide if such 
an argument is valid, and that is here in the United States where he committed 
his crimes, in front of a court or a parole board of proper jurisdiction.  I 
would encourage George Wright to come and make his argument.  Thank you.

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Gallagher, thank you so very much for that very extensive 
background, as well as for your work dating back to 1994.  And thank you so 
much for that.

I’d like to now ask Mr. Winer, if you would proceed with your testimony.

JONATHAN WINER:  (Off mic.)  Mr. Chairman, Mr. Cohen and honorable members of 
the committee:  As former deputy assistant secretary of state for international 
law enforcement, I’m honored to testify, to share my views regarding the 
international extradition system and options for the United States when a 
foreign legal system frustrates justice.  I ask that my full written statement 
be placed in the record.

REP. SMITH:  Without objection – (off mic).

MR. WINER:  During my tenure in the State Department and since, our government 
has worked to vindicate one underlying goal with regard to fugitives:  to 
secure their return to the United States to provide justice regardless of the 
criminal’s location.  I have 10 points to make about how to apply this 
principle to the George Wright case and more generally.

First, the decision by the Portuguese judge to refuse Wright’s extradition to 
the United States is legally indefensible under the century-old U.S.-Portuguese 
extradition treaty and under the principles of extradition law internationally. 
 Neither the passage of time nor Wright’s citizenship through marriage provide 
a legitimate basis for the Portuguese judge to deny extradition, let alone 
humanitarian factors that have been asserted.  This is simply legally wrong.

The statute of limitations protects people from belated prosecutions, not 
fugitive escapees from prison after their convictions.  It is also an abuse to 
refuse to extradite a citizen of another country who’s escaped prison and only 
later becomes a citizen of the country to which he’s fled.  The judge’s 
decision on these two issues is legally wrong, morally unjust and should be 
given no respect whatsoever by any government beyond Portugal.

Two, Portuguese authorities can still do the right thing to secure justice.  
Wright entered Portugal through immigration fraud, using a false name and with 
a false history about his citizenship and birth.  It appears these true facts 
were not known to Portuguese authorities until 2010 or so.  If this is correct, 
Portugal could revoke his citizenship and deport him, putting him on a plane to 
the United States or to another country which could turn him over to the United 

Three, the U.S. can take further steps on its own to use international 
institutions on this matter.  George Wright is currently listed by the United 
States on Interpol’s public wanted database as a fugitive.  But the public 
notice is notably out of date.  It doesn’t list his current name, address or 
other current personal details.  This was as of yesterday.  This new detailed 
data could all be provided to Interpol by the United States and made publicly 
available to every citizen of the world.  The U.S. could ask Europol, Europe’s 
police institution, to track him down and to arrest him if he ventures beyond 
Portugal.  And FBI legal attachés could make the same request with their EU 

Four, the U.S. has a reward program for the rendition of important fugitives.  
One part of that’s administered by my former bureau, the Bureau of 
International Narcotics and Law Enforcement.  The State Department could issue 
a reward for information or other assistance that secures the return of Wright 
to the United States.  A reward might lead to a citizen’s arrest in which 
people grab him and put Wright into U.S. custody.  This approach has been 
upheld by the Supreme Court.  Indeed, the Justice Department’s internal 
procedures expressly allow the use of bounty hunters and rewards.

Fifth, the U.S. can itself use lures to entice a criminal fugitive to leave a 
foreign country so he and – or she can be arrested in international waters or 
airspace, or (brought ?) the United States or in a third country for subsequent 
extradition, expulsion or deportation.  There are a wide range of possibilities 
for lures potentially applicable to Wright.  How will he know whether a book 
agent or movie agent is real and intends to help him publicize his life, or is 
actually an agent of the United States?  I hope he has a lot of trouble making 
that distinction in the days to come.

Sixth, the United States could undertake an extraordinary rendition, in which 
U.S. government officials take direct action to capture a terrorist – which 
Wright was – such as snatching Wright as he’s going about his day-to-day 
business, smuggling him into a car and then to a boat, and then bringing him to 
the United States to face justice.  Notably, the use of such techniques risks 
significant protests on the part of a foreign government such as Portugal and 
can chill the bilateral relationship.  This happened when we did it in a very 
important case in Mexico.  We did the right thing.  The Mexicans were angry, 
but it was the right thing to do after they tortured and killed a Drug 
Enforcement agent – Administration agent.  And it happened recently in Italy in 
connection with some renditions.  But we can still do it if we choose to.

Seven, the U.S. could apply terrorist economic sanctions to Wright, prohibiting 
transactions with him by any U.S. person and freezing any assets he may have in 
any U.S. financial institution.  Now, he may not have any in any U.S. financial 
institution, but foreign financial institutions often then apply these 
sanctions as well to protect themselves, and it will certainly inhibit his 
ability to gain any economic advantage from his life story.

As he stated publicly, he hopes to write a book about his life and secure a 
film deal.  U.S. imposition of terrorist sanctions against him would make it 
much more difficult for him to sell the book and to profit off his crimes, and 
might make it possible for profits from any of these ventures could be seized 
by the United States.

Eight, the U.S. could take steps to punish Portugal for its court’s unjust 
refusal to extradite Wright.  Unfortunately, I believe this approach almost 
certainly would be counterproductive in practice.  We have all kinds of 
security arrangements with Portugal.  The Portuguese government did not do the 
wrong thing, as near as I can tell here:  A Portuguese judge did, a different 
part of the – of the Portuguese government.  And for that reason, were I in the 
State Department, I would not support sanctions against Portugal.  Regardless, 
senior U.S. officials can be directed to raise this issue with Portuguese 
counterparts, inviting positive steps by Portugal, such as denaturalization and 
deportation, to secure justice, and I certainly hope they do that.

Nine, Congress could strengthen the executive branch's ability to analyze and 
apply these tools in cases of failed extraditions, such as this one.  This 
could be facilitated through a congressional mandate for an annual report on 
extraditions to Congress covering such issues as total extraditions by country, 
number of extraditions refused, reasons for refusal of extraditions and steps 
taken by the United States in response to a refused extradition.  Such a report 
might provide for further focused attention on these issues by both the 
executive branch and by Congress, thereby facilitating the goal of securing 
justice for all. 

I understand any administration might resist putting such information in one 
place publicly in order to protect confidential intelligence, diplomatic and 
law enforcement programs, activities and relationships.  For this reason, 
Congress may wish to consider structuring any such mandate to provide for a 
public report that delivers statistical data and information with a – in 
classified – publicly, with information on certain matters in a classified 

Finally – and I know you’re facing a vote – we’re OK?  OK.  Finally, the U.S. 
should not give up on this case simply because an extradition has failed.  A 
fugitive may be able to run, but should never be permitted to hide.  George 
Wright has expressed his relief at not being returned to the United States to 
serve out his prison sentence, and being allowed to spend the remainder of his 
life with his wife and his grown children, while profiting off his crimes by 
writing a book about them and seeking a film deal.  Walter Patterson and his 
entire family have been denied such pleasures and their fundamental human 
rights by Wright and his own personally-chosen criminal acts.  

In this case, and in other cases like this, U.S. policy and the actions our 
government takes must make sure that murderers and terrorists, wherever 
located, can never breathe the sigh of relief that they have reached safety as 
a result of outlasting law and justice.

Which of the options I have outlined should be taken in this case will depend 
on careful judgments by those in the U.S. government with the most knowledge of 
the facts about what steps will be mostly likely to actually succeed to secure 
justice here.  The committee may contribute to that process further through 
ongoing dialogue with those who have those responsibilities, including sending 
specific questions to relevant components of the U.S. government about their 
intended actions on this case now that extradition has failed.

I am available to respond to any questions you may have, and thank you.

REP. SMITH:  Thank you so much, Mr. Winer.  Let me just ask you, if I could, 
first, of your 10 points, what points, if any, have been pursued by the Justice 
Department or by State?

MR. WINER:  Based on the public record, it does not appear any steps other than 
the extradition – Mr. Gallagher may have more information than I do – and 
that’s one reason why further inquiry from the committee may be of value.

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Gallagher, are you aware of any other efforts made besides 

MR. GALLAGHER:  No, I am not.  I’m – as of my retirement, I’m no longer in the 

REP. SMITH:  OK.  Again, I would – we had asked that the administration be 
here.  Due to a scheduling conflict they’re not, but we will ask that question 
and many others in open hearing, as well as by way of letter.  


MR. WINER:  Mr. Chairman, Mr. Schwartz at the Justice Department is a person 
I’ve worked with in the past for whom I have the highest possible regard for 
his integrity, competence, diligence, creativity, imagination, knowledge.  And 
I think that working with him on this matter would be as fruitful as it could 
possibly be, in light of his institutional responsibilities.

REP. SMITH:  Knowing what you know, having worked as a DAS – deputy assistant 
secretary – for law – international law enforcement, is the decision made at 
his level, or would it be made at a higher level?

MR. WINER:  I think the answer to that question is yes and yes, which is to say 
Mr. Schwartz exercises a lot of influence – and he should:  He’s a person of 
great judgment and experience.  In this matter and all of these kinds of 
matters, the State Department has its equities; it wants to maintain a good 
relationship with Portugal, which, as I said, this is a judicial decision, not 
an executive branch decision; it’s going to want to think about precedent.  The 
Justice Department has had a lot of experience with such problems as 
extraordinary rendition over the past decade, and so there will be more than 
one component of a U.S. government that would likely be involved in this kind 
of process.

REP. SMITH:  We have heard that before.  We’ve heard it recently in the case of 
a child who was abducted to Brazil, and the equities were such that very little 
was being done to bring David Goldman’s son, Sean, back.  It was on a list of 
talking points but hardly a priority.  We hear it often.  

It seems to me that from the Portuguese point of view, there should at least be 
some consideration being given as to what this does to the other side of that 
equation, and that is what Americans – what the American government, what the 
Congress and hopefully what the executive branch – thinks of what appears to be 
a rogue court.  As you said, I think, Mr. Gallagher, so well, questions could 
be asked and – but the final adjudication needs to be done here, where the 
crime and the conviction and the sentencing and the incarceration were all done 
in a very lawful manner and no one questions whether or not the rule of law was 
followed in this case.

And yet some rogue – seemingly rogue – judge is able to do this, and there will 
be repercussions, respectfully, I would say, from this side, vis-à-vis Portugal.

MR. WINER:  Mr. Chairman, from my perspective, when Congress takes an interest 
in an issue like this, it can motivate elements of our government to do more.  
And the instincts of the government ordinarily in the executive branch is to 
deal with the crisis of the day and the underlying goals of maintaining 
relationships and working problems.  Making this a priority is an important 
part of the congressional mission and does have an impact – a positive impact – 
on executive branch functionality in terms of protecting Americans.  And it can 
make a very big difference in strengthening the ability of the executive branch 
to protect Americans, as is the case here.

REP. SMITH:  And that is part of what the hope is here, that this begins an 
introspection as to whether or not we’re doing all our due diligence to protect 
Americans everywhere.

I just came back from Bolivia just a few weeks ago on a case of a man named 
Jacob Osstreicher, who has been charged with nothing, languishes in Palmasola 
Prison with no charges brought against him.  The welfare and whereabouts aspect 
of what State has done, by the consular affairs people, is tremendous, but it 
has not been raised to the level of government to government, in a way – has 
not gone to the undersecretary, has not gone to the secretary or any higher.  I 
asked that question specifically.  So we’re making, hopefully, a big deal about 
that, not just for Jacob – although that should be enough – but for any other 
American who is improperly and unethically incarcerated and is made to suffer.  
And that, Ms. Patterson, is in part what we’re trying to do here.

One – and I think this is something that is often missed by some in government 
– and that is the ongoing trauma that you and your family has experienced.  
This is not over.  And there are three impact statements that some of the 
younger relatives, the daughters, would submit – are going to submit for the 
record.  As you said, five generations of traumatizing, and for this man to 
remain at liberty thumbing his nose at the world, especially at your family and 
at the United States, having been incarcerated.  

And all the good work that was done by the FBI – Mr. Gallagher, thank you for 
that tremendous work taking this up in 1994.  And I’m wondering, having worked 
with the Portuguese, is this a pattern?  Have you detected anything that would 
even suggest that this is the way the Portuguese government acts, or is this an 

MR. GALLAGHER:  This was my lone attempt at extradition with Portugal.  But I 
can say that when we met with them in Department of Justice, they were – the 
law enforcement, they were the ones that, at our behest, made the positive 
identification and were bending over backwards to help us, as were the 
Portuguese prosecutors.  And I would defer that it – to me, it looks like a 
sole judge in the judiciary over there that is – that has just made a bad call.

REP. SMITH:  Now, is there a higher level of court that can overrule him?  Is 
that in the process?  And did the United States meet its timeline and – to 
appeal and to try to bring this to the next level?

MR. WINER:  Mr. Chairman, I don’t understand the final moments of this case, in 
which we – the United States government – apparently did not do a final appeal. 
 I know that the office of the legal counsel at the Department of State and/or 
the Office of International Affairs in the Department of Justice would most 
likely have been involved in making a determination on that.  Both of these 
offices, in my experience, regardless of administration, Republican, Democrat, 
over decades, are diligent and honorable and pay attention, first and foremost, 
to the legal equities of Americans – American citizens and the U.S. government. 
 And while other parts of the government may have other equities, I want to 
maintain a great relationship with the country of A, B or C, these offices are 
very focused on those points.  So it’s a factual thing to clear up with them.

I can tell you point blank Portugal and the United States have maintained over 
many decades close working law enforcement as well as military security 
relations that have advanced U.S. security and law enforcement – and law 
enforcement goals over a long time.  These are not just valued allies in a 
clichéd sense; they’re valued allies in a day-to-day operational sense.  And I 
do not blame the country for what this judge did, just as any number of 
American judges have made decisions with which I vehemently disagree and do not 

REP. SMITH:  Let me just – you know, this hearing is not the beginning.  When 
Ms. Patterson came and asked me to look into this, I got on the phone 
immediately and began the process, and then knew in a timely fashion that an 
appeal had to be filed.  And so, you know, they certainly were on notice that – 
you know, that something should have been done sooner rather than let a 
deadline pass, which is again why we had hoped the Justice Department would be 
here to give us a – maybe we’re missing something.  I’d love to know.

MR. WINER:  Congress should have an – they – Congress should have an 
explanation from the executive branch on this.

REP. SMITH:  Appreciate that, thank you.

Yes – (inaudible).

MR. GALLAGHER:  Mr. Chairman, I’ll give you my sense of it, and that is as – 
I’ve been informed that the appeal could – the department – or the Department 
of Justice hired private attorneys in Portugal.  And the Portuguese 
prosecutors, for whatever reason – and the reason I don’t know – chose not to 
go ahead with the appeal on their side.  The court ruled that the private 
attorneys hired by Department of Justice could not go forward on their own 
without a file of appeal by the prosecutors, and that – that’s what I know.  I 
can’t explain it, but –


Mr. Winer.

MR. WINER:  Attorneys regularly, in this world, don’t think of all 
contingencies, or in the – to be more blunt, screw up.  And if Mr. Gallagher’s 
account is correct, it may be that inadequate consideration was given by the 
Justice Department to this possibility.  These things can happen, and in this 
case, the result is a travesty.  This is unjust, this is a travesty, this is 
wrong, this should be turned around and the United States government should be 
taking whatever steps are appropriate to get this turned around.

REP. SMITH:  Your point number eight – and I thank you for that emphatic 
statement – you mention that senior U.S. officials can be directed to raise 
this issue with Portuguese counterparts, inviting positive steps by Portugal 
such as denaturalization and deportation to secure justice.  Has that been done?

MR. WINER:  I have no information as to whether it’s been done in this case.  
It may well be that because the extradition process was going forward, this 
option was not previously considered.  It should be.  If he, as every fact 
seems to indicate, committed any form of fraud in Portugal that allowed him to 
become a citizen, certainly under core principles of immigration law, you can 
seek a denaturalization as a prelude to deportation.  And this is done, it can 
be done and it has been done in other cases, and it certainly should be 
actively explored in this case.  

If that doesn’t work, you’ve got lures, you’ve got extraordinary renditions, 
you’ve got bounty hunters and rewards.  Those are all options.

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Gallagher, you – and it must have been agonizing to recommend 
that the air piracy charges be dropped so that this conviction and – it would – 
the way would be paved to bring this man back to serve for having murdered Mr. 
Patterson.  Could you just elaborate a little bit on how hard that had to have 
been?  I mean, air piracy is a – an extraordinary, an egregious crime, and yet 
you saw this, you know, garnering justice in this case to trump that.  You 
triaged it.

MR. GALLAGHER:  I – you’re – I can answer that in that it didn’t seem like we 
were getting anywhere with respect to submitting an extradition request, and 
that it was going to be denied.  There’s practical law enforcement reasons in 
that he’s been positively identified for close to a year and a half, and 
sitting on a fugitive for a year and a half is interminable.  Just the chance 
that he finds out that somebody’s looking at him or for him, he could certainly 
pick up that information by a chance visit to his local police station, where 
they’ve been notified, hey, the guy down the road is really a U.S. fugitive, or 
a chance traffic violation.  So sitting a year and a half is a very long time 
to do.  So we sought resolution.  I don’t know that the air piracy thing is 
dead, but at the time, it was severed.

REP. SMITH:  You – Mr. Winer pointed out that the INTERPOL information was, to 
this – as of yesterday, I think you said – was out of date.  That’s 
unconscionable.  This man is a flight risk this instant.  Why couldn’t that be 
corrected easily?

MR. WINER:  I was stunned to find it listed as George Wright, without a 
pseudonym, to list the old information without updates, and I do not understand 

REP. SMITH:  How hard, Mr. Gallagher, is that to update?

MR. GALLAGHER:  I know it can be updated.  I hadn’t queried it recently, so –

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Winer?

MR. WINER:  It can be updated in an hour.  It can be updated in two hours.  It 
should not take more than 24 hours from this hearing to be updated.

REP. SMITH: Now, is it possible that Mr. Wright, if he thought that the 
Portuguese government might do something to expedite the extradition, that he 
could, as we’re talking, be a flight risk or leave Portugal to go to a 
nonextradition country?

MR. WINER:  There are any number of things that he could do.  He could go back 
to Algeria, I suppose, where apparently he started out his adventure.  He could 
go to – where was he in Africa, Mr. Gallagher?

MR. GALLAGHER:  Guinea-Bissau.

MR. WINER:  Guinea-Bissau and hang out in Guinea-Bissau, if he wants to do 
that.  The United States could then pursue him throughout the world.  Why not?

REP. SMITH:  Mr. Cohen.

REP. COHEN:  Thank you.  

First of all, Ms. Patterson, I think I errantly referred to you as the widow 
and you’re obviously the daughter, but, you know, it’s just it’s been such time 
and I didn’t – wasn’t familiar with it.  But I’m – appreciate your testimony.  
I’m sorry.  Your father was a hero, and whether he was or wasn’t, his murderer 
should be – his murderer should be apprehended, particularly in light of what 
he did in service to his country.

Has our State Department or anybody at the United States government contacted 
you?  Have you had contact with anybody in this matter recently?

MS. PATTERSON:  I had – besides Congressman Smith, I had contacted Senator 
Lautenberg’s office, and they had put in a couple of requests for me, and I – 
and they did request from the State – the Department of Justice.  And I have – 
I do have copies of those letters that I will submit to the record, too.  So I 
did hear from the State Department.  I have written a letter to Secretary of 
State Clinton, and I did get a letter back from there about six months later.  
So I do have those two.

REP. COHEN:  And what was the response?

MS. PATTERSON:  From the State Department, they were aware of it and they were 
– wanted justice also.  And they were going to be working on it.  And from the 
Department of Justice, they said that they had been advised by their lawyer not 
to go for the last appeal because it would not – it wouldn’t matter; they would 
still be denied.  So they would be looking at other avenues also.

REP. COHEN:  Mr. Winer – and I presume you’d be the right person to ask this 
couple of questions.  First, are there other fugitives that Portugal has 
refused to extradite to our country that you’re familiar with?

MR. WINER:  No, the only case that I’m familiar with is the case that’s decades 
old which the U.S. refused to extradite someone to Portugal, which went all the 
way up to the Supreme Court, having to do with nationality exclusions and 
became a big precedent in extradition law.  But this is not a pattern, to the 
best of my knowledge. 
REP. COHEN:  And you don’t think that the judge there would have had that in 
the back of his mind?
REP. COHEN:  It’s not – it’s not a case that’s a burning issue with people. 
Do you know anything about this judge and his or her history and background and 
MR. WINER:  I do not, sir.
REP. COHEN:  No?  And the judge is strictly – is – what type of judge is it?  
Do you know?
MR. WINER:  I do not, no.
REP. COHEN:  The Portuguese judiciary, is it known to be above board?
MR. WINER:  It’s considered to be independent.  And like most Western European 
judiciaries, it’s pretty good – imperfect, but pretty good.  And again, in the 
United States, there are any number of decisions that judges make that I’ve 
disagreed with over the years.  It’s difficult to enforce rule of law in a fair 
and honorable way in all cases.  Travesties occur.  This is a travesty and an 
REP. COHEN:  Has anybody from the Portuguese government – I know it’s a 
separate branch and all that – expressed in any way their concern about the 
decision of the judge or any action that they might think was appropriate, or 
have they been pretty moot on it?
MR. WINER:  That’s a question that you would have to ask United States 
government or Mrs. Patterson about.
REP. COHEN:  Do either Mrs. Patterson or Mr. Gallagher know of any statement 
that the government might have made, any concern or issue –
MR. GALLAGHER (?):  (No, I’m not aware ?).
REP. COHEN:  None at all.
Rendition’s an interesting concept.  You brought it up, Mr. Winer.  Who is the 
– which branch of our government does this?  Is it the –
MR. WINER:  Renditions have been done in recent years by intelligence agencies 
with involvement under some certain circumstances of the military or other 
security elements of the United States government.  The law enforcement 
agencies take the point of view that they do not ask how someone came under 
U.S. jurisdiction.  That’s not important.  Their role is to deal with people 
once they’re under U.S. jurisdiction.  
REP. COHEN: It’s a results test.
MR. WINER:  Other – correct.  Other components of the United States 
government’s are involved in the rendition process or private citizens in 
connection with rewards programs.
REP. COHEN:  And this is – it’s a rare – it’s rare that this is used, to the 
best of your knowledge?
MR. WINER:  It was rare when I was in the government.  My understanding is it 
was less rare in the Bush administration during the period post-9/11.  And it 
appears the current administration has moved more towards the use of other 
mechanisms rather than renditions to deal with terrorists.  The drone program 
would be one example of that.
REP. COHEN:  Rendition to the – (inaudible).
MR. WINER:  Rendition to another place. 
REP. COHEN:  Yes, yes.  Indeed.
Do we – is Wright hiding out, or is he pretty open and notorious in Portugal 
know?  Do we know?  Mr. Gallagher, do you have any idea?
MR. GALLAGHER:  By all media, he’s living in the same residence and open.
REP. COHEN:  So somebody could go over there and bring him to justice or 
And do you know how long he’s been married, how long he’s had citizenship?
MR. GALLAGHER:  No, I do not.
REP. COHEN:  Yeah.  This is – it’s an amazing story.  I appreciate Mr. Smith 
bringing this to the – to the commission.  It is a terrorist act.  I think I 
remember this.  It’s hard – it’s ’72 – I’m that old.  And during that time, 
there were quite a few hijackings.  And we were all concerned about flying and 
would you end up in Cuba.  You know, a lot of them went to Cuba, but I remember 
this Algeria thing and going to Miami and Boston and the whole scene, so I 
guess I remember this case.  And it did make people leery of flying, and it’s 
certainly a terrorist act and something that shouldn’t just be forgotten about. 
 I mean, we should find justice.
I’ve been in the – I’m proud to be a member of the Judiciary Committee, as well 
as this commission.  But in the Judiciary Committee under Chairman John Conyers 
we did a lot of successful legislation to see that perpetrators of civil rights 
crimes were brought to justice, even though the – many years had transpired 
since the crime had been committed.  And I think in those – all those 
circumstances, the perpetrators should be brought to justice, for the crime 
they did was against society.  And in this situation, it’s the same.  And I 
don’t think – I don’t find the judge’s decision that there’s any kind of a 
lapse, a breach – because a time should work, latches shouldn’t be applied, 
statute of limitations or anything like that.  And we should take a position 
that we get involved.  
So I’d like to plan to join with Mr. Smith.  I did not have the opportunity to 
do it in the past.  But if he does another entreaty to the State Department – 
and I feel confident that he will – I would like to join with him in that, and 
whenever we do so, it is bipartisan.  And I believe that we should continue 
action to see that this gentleman is brought to justice, because what he’s done 
was wrong to your family, it was wrong to the United States of America and is 
wrong to the justice system.  So I appreciate the hearing, the testimony, and I 
regret what you and I presume these –  are these granddaughters here?
MS.     :  (Off mic.)
REP. COHEN:  Well, I’m sorry about – you had a great grandfather, and your 
mother’s doing a great job to remember that legacy.  We should never forget the 
legacy.  We should always remember and try to find justice.  You know, in the 
Jewish religion, the Holocaust, never forget, and you don’t forget your family. 
 Thank you.
REP. SMITH:  Well, thank you.  And we will work together on requesting 
additional actions by the State Department and Justice Department.
Let me ask, I – we have three impact statements, and I know – and without 
naming each person – because I know that that’s a concern – I would like if any 
of the granddaughter – or daughters, I should say, would like to – and 
granddaughter – say a word or two or a paragraph from their impact statement, 
the entire statement will be put in the record.  
And while you’re thinking about the – for a moment, Mr. Winer, you made a very 
excellent point about Congress’ strength and the executive branch’s ability to 
analyze and apply these tools in cases of failed extraditions, and you proposed 
that we get a report – and we will follow up with some legislation pursuant to 
your excellent recommendation that would cover total extraditions by countries, 
number of extraditions refused, reason for refusal of extraditions and steps 
taken by the U.S. in response.  And that’s the one that we would really look 
forward to – in response to a refused extradition.  We don’t have the data.  We 
don’t get the information.  There’s a – you know, a lack of compiling it, and I 
think your recommendation is a good one.  Thank you for that.
Would anyone like to say a word, please?
No need to say your name.  
MS.     :  (Inaudible.)  Should I read the whole thing or – OK. 
I am not sure I will ever know the full impact of never meeting my grandfather 
Walter Patterson, but I can speculate how things could have been.  I imagine 
that he would have spent time with his grandchildren as we grew up, visiting 
us, playing with us, spending holidays with us or going to our weddings, 
meeting his great-grandchildren.  I am sure he would have told us his war 
stories and life adventures, but we will never know his story as told by Walter 
If my grandfather hadn’t been murdered, I think my grandmother would have lived 
longer to enjoy the abovementioned activities with her grandchildren.  George 
Wright took both of them away from us.  Even though George Wright denies firing 
shots, it was not a bullet that killed my grandfather.  He died from severe 
head trauma, trauma inflicted on my grandfather by George Wright.  Beating a 
man who was a decorated World War II veteran while he was doing – while he was 
down is a cowardly act.  It’s time for George Wright to grow up and be a man 
and face punishment for the violent, disgusting crime he committed.  Wright 
chose his actions.  Now he needs to pay the price for them.
One of the biggest impacts of living without my grandfather was financial 
hardship.  He was a gas station owner who probably would have had financial 
security to pass along to my mother.  Instead, she had her father and all that 
he had to offer taken away.  My mother had to start with nothing, therefore 
times were extremely difficult for us as we grew up.  I started babysitting and 
taking care of neighbors’ pets when I was in 5th grade to earn some money.  I 
used that money to buy a car.  As soon as I was old enough to drive, I went to 
work after school each day and on weekends to pay for car insurance, gas and 
clothes.  If I needed something, I knew I had to pay for it. 
After high school, I had to work two jobs while going to college full-time.  I 
had to pay my own tuition.  I had to pay for my own wedding.  My parents simply 
didn’t have the means to help their children with these things.  If my 
grandfather had been alive, he could have watched us when we were little so my 
mom could have gone to work to help out financially.  My parents did the best 
they could just to put food on the table for us.  My dad hunted, so we ate a 
lot of venison.  There were no extras or luxury items.  We wore hand-me-downs 
and were taught to be happy with what we had.  My parents wouldn’t have needed 
to struggle if my grandfather had been there to help.  My grandfather wasn’t 
here to help due to George Wright’s senseless crime.
Whatever happened in the hospital when my mom went to see her father as he was 
dying caused her to not be able to go to hospitals anymore.  She has 11 
grandchildren – 12 now – that she was unable to see when they were born, not 
until they came home.  My daughter was in a special care nursery for 10 days 
when she was born.  Luckily, she was OK, but my mom may have never seen her 
granddaughter alive.  I split my head open as a child and had to wait for a 
ride to the hospital to get stiches because my mom couldn’t take me to the 
hospital and my dad was at work.  He worked as many hours as he could just to 
make ends meet.
It is difficult to speculate how things would have been if my grandfather 
hadn’t been murdered, but his presence could have only made life easier and 
better for all of us.  George Wright turned my mother’s life upside down, and 
five generations of the Patterson family have been negatively affected.  Wright 
has lived a full life, while my grandfather’s life was senselessly taken away. 
Wright should be thankful for the time he has had with his family.  At least he 
has the opportunity to say goodbye to his wife and kids as he leaves to serves 
his sentence.  My grandfather wasn’t given that courtesy.  George Wright’s fate 
is a result of his own choices and actions.  My grandfather was an innocent man 
trying to make an honest living.  He fought for our country and for our 
freedom.  In return, he was beaten to death by George Wright.  Please provide 
justice for my grandfather Walter Patterson, and extradite George Wright to the 
United States to finish serving his sentence for the brutal beating and murder 
of my grandfather.  Thank you for your time and consideration.
MS.     :  Thank you.  “Get away with murder.”  To some it’s just an 
expression, but to others a reality.  Forty-nine years ago, a little girl of 14 
years old received a horrifying phone call.  On the other end was a distraught 
family member calling to notify a woman that her husband (sic) had been 
brutally attacked and shot.  The 14-year-old was the recipient of this message 
and was told nothing except:  Walt’s been shot.  Walter was her father, who two 
days later had vanished from her life forever.  It sounds like a movie or 
storyline for a perfect mystery book series.  To my family and myself, it’s the 
harsh reality of the world we live in.  
My mother is that 14-year-old girl, and Walter Patterson is the grandfather I 
never met.  From what I understand and conclude from stories told, he was a 
hardworking family man.  He had risked his life in the U.S. Army fighting for 
the freedom of the people and the country in which we reside.  Going to battle 
and sustaining injuries during combat isn’t what took him from his family.  It 
was the appalling choice of some of the very Americans he was fighting for.  It 
was a moment that would change the lives of many people.
On the night of November 23, 1962, Walter Patterson was working at a gas 
station he ran.  It was an innocent night’s work, and he was making a living to 
provide for his family who consisted of a wife and two young daughters.  When a 
car of four individuals pulled around the back of the shop, an average workday 
would soon take a turn for the worst.  Little did my grandfather known he’d 
soon be faced with individuals garbed with stockings on their heads and 
equipped with guns in their hands.  What began as a robbery ended in murder.  
The individuals who set out with the intentions of – with the intentions of 
killing had succeeded.  Luckily, our justice system had been victorious in 
apprehending these individuals and convicting them for the crime they 
committed.  Walter Patterson can’t be brought back to watch his two daughters 
blow out their birthday candles, hang Christmas lights with his family or carve 
the Thanksgiving turkey.  He would never be able to participate in 
daddy-daughter dances, walk his daughters down the aisle on their wedding day 
or enjoy the births of their children.  But at least the creatures responsible 
for this would pay for what they’ve done – or would they?
Seven years of a prison sentence was apparently all that one of these cowards, 
a man by the name of George Wright, could handle.  As if choosing to 
participate in a murder wasn’t enough of a poor choice, his life of crime 
wouldn’t stop there.  Mr. Wright had the brilliant idea to steal the prison 
warden’s car to make his great escape.  
Being a criminal obviously came easy to this individual, because his 
law-breaking actions didn’t stop there.  What does a convicted murderer do 
after he breaks out of prison?  Well, this particular criminal chose to expand 
his criminal record by hijacking a passenger plane, putting yet more lives at 
risk and making a mockery of the FBI.  He managed to collect $1 million in 
ransom money, which he demanded be delivered by FBI agents in their underwear 
or swimsuits.  One would think that if this murderer to be caught, he’d really 
be in serious trouble with all these actions he carried out.  
For many years George Wright lived his life.  He even got married and had a 
family of his own.  Were the images of a beaten and shot man ever present in 
his mind?  Did he ever think about the lives of those family members that were 
torn apart on that day that he chose to act like a man of no feelings or regard 
for human life?  When he was counting his illegally obtained million dollars, 
was he picturing two young girls standing over a coffin painfully watching 
their young, brave father be buried?  Was he thinking of the young single 
mother who was left to deal with her newly broken family?  I doubt it.  And 
George Wright was actually running like a coward while conspiring about how he 
would be able to live the good life himself.  No conscience, remorse or regret 
has ever been evident by this individual’s actions.  He must have felt he had 
something to hide, proven by the fact that he illegally and unofficially 
changed his name and remained in a country half a world away from where he 
destroyed Walter Patterson and his family.
Forty-one years have passed by.  After diligent searching and a refusal to put 
this case file back in the file cabinet, the FBI was hopeful that they had 
found this murderer and fugitive.  That 14-year-old girl who received that 
devastating phone call is now 63 years old and has received yet another phone 
call regarding the murder of her father.  Only this time, the phone call was of 
a positive nature.  The news of this armed robber, murderer, prison escapee, 
plane hijacker and fraud being caught seemed surreal.  After all these years, 
this man will finally pay the price for the crimes he chose to committee.  
The life of Walter Patterson can’t be brought back.  Knowing that justice will 
be served and that George Wright literally won’t get away with murder will help 
to close the door on this devastating chapter of Walter Patterson’s family’s 
Protecting and hiding a known convicted criminal is considered a crime in 
itself.  Portugal, the place in which George Wright chose to flee to and hide 
out at, like the coward he is, chose to protect him by refusing extradition.  
How can an average individual be punished for hiding out a criminal, yet here 
you have the government of a country harboring this fugitive and getting away 
with it?
When this news hit our family, many emotions were felt.  The feelings of anger, 
sadness and frustration are overwhelming.  A convicted killer and fugitive has 
been caught but is being protected from the law.  The rationale is now that he 
is a Portuguese citizen and therefore they feel the need to protect him.  Never 
mind the fact that Walter Patterson had no protection from this individual’s 
hands, but in hindsight, is George Wright even a legitimate Portuguese citizen? 
 He used criminal acts to access the country and used a fraudulent family 
background and name to obtain his so-called citizenship.  George Wright has not 
become a Portuguese citizen, but rather the pseudo-individual he created has.  
One would think the government would want to rid their country of crime and 
corruption, but Portugal is protecting an individual who has brought these 
things to them.
Portugal isn’t the only country to blame for this monster having the ability to 
move on with his life as if his hands were not a murder weapon at one time, as 
if his own mind didn’t tell him to commit the various crimes of a hateful, 
malicious monster.  The very country that Walter Patterson received numerous 
medals for protecting, it’s contributing to George Wright literally getting 
away with murder.  The country in which immigrants travel far and wide to reach 
to obtain a better life for themselves, our very own United States of America, 
has given up on one of its own.  The decision has been made that a human life 
that was taken illegally by the hands of another isn’t worth pursuing justice 
for.  Members of our attorney general’s office has – have decided that no more 
appeals are necessary in the attempt to extradite this convicted murderer so 
justice can be served.  It would be very interesting to see if the same 
decision would be made if the individual who was prematurely buried carried one 
of their last names.
This war veteran fought for the freedom of citizens of the United States.  The 
government was unable to protect him from George Wright while he was still 
alive.  The least that the United States could do is return the fight that he 
gave and express the need to have this man brought back to where this crime was 
In public schools across the nation, hundreds of students and staff proudly 
recite the Pledge of Allegiance.  It would be reassuring to know that these 
aren’t just words but actually have true meaning, and that our country stands 
by the last line of this pledge.  If nothing else, this country should have the 
ambition to send a message that the United States is just that:  united.  Thank 
REP. SMITH:  Thank you.  Remarkable words and convictions, heart, courage from 
three remarkable women.  Mr. Patterson would be so proud.  We will continue our 
efforts diligently.  The hearing’s adjourned.