INTENDENTE ALVEAR, Argentina — An American who sought refuge in Argentina after he was accused of killing his wife in 2002 should be sent back to the United States, Argentina’s Supreme Court announced this week.
The decision to extradite the American, Kurt Sonnenfeld, who moved to Argentina in 2003 after prosecutors in Denver charged him with first-degree murder, ends a long dispute between the United States Justice Department and local courts in Argentina.
Mr. Sonnenfeld, who has claimed that he has proof that the American government had prior knowledge of the Sept. 11 attacks, and who has gained a following among like-minded conspiracy theorists, has said the government and prosecutors colluded to frame him for his wife’s death in order to silence him. The Denver district attorney’s office has denied these allegations.
Argentina’s courts had rejected extradition requests from the Justice Department, saying the district attorney’s office could not guarantee Mr. Sonnenfeld would be spared the death penalty in Colorado if convicted. But in a new ruling, the Argentine Supreme Court said it now had the assurances it needed to approve the extradition of Mr. Sonnenfeld.
However, one of the judges added, it was granting the extradition request on the condition that if Mr. Sonnenfeld were found guilty and sentenced to life in prison, there would be a provision for his parole. The judges said a sentence without the possibility of parole would violate Argentina’s Constitution.
Mr. Sonnenfeld, who is reported to be in his 50s, has requested political asylum in Argentina. He arrived in Buenos Aires a little more than a year after his wife was found by the police, slumped on a sofa in a bedroom at their Denver home on Jan. 1, 2002. She had been shot through the head. Mr. Sonnenfeld, who remarried in Argentina, has said his wife committed suicide.
Prosecutors dropped initial murder charges against him in mid-2002 because of insufficient evidence. New charges were later filed, and Mr. Sonnenfeld was arrested in Argentina and briefly jailed.
He had been a cameraman for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, sent to the World Trade Center shortly after the attacks of 2001 to document the aftermath. He said the video footage he collected indicated that the government had known about the attacks ahead of time.
Mr. Sonnenfeld accused the government of hacking into his email and tapping his telephone calls. He has appeared in the news media in Argentina and written a book, published in Spanish, called “El Perseguido” (“The Persecuted”).
JAN. 2, 2015 Jonathan Gilbert.