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Cuba is not willing to extradite Tupac Shakur's aunt, U.S. diplomat says

Assata Shakur is on FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted Terrorists list

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Cuban officials told U.S. diplomats that they were not interested in discussing the extradition of rapper Tupac Shakur's aunt, the leading U.S. diplomat in the negotiations said Wednesday during a Congressional hearing.

Roberta S. Jacobson, the assistant secretary of state for Western hemisphere affairs, said that the U.S. Department of State high-ranking diplomats were "frustrated" about Cuba's lack of willingness to address an extradition treaty.

"This is critical to us," Jacobson said during a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing.

During the hearing Wednesday, several lawmakers said they were concerned about the long list of U.S. fugitives Cuba is harboring. There are an estimated 70 fugitives who have found sanctuary under the Communist island's Castro regime.

Rapper Tupac Shakur's aunt Assata Shakur, also known as a JoAnne Chesimard,  is one of the most publicized cases. She was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in the May 1973 execution-style  slaying of New Jersey State Trooper Werner Foerster. The Cuban government during Fidel Castro's ruling embraced her.

Jacobson said Wednesday that Cuban President Raul Castro's regime was "not interested on discussing her return" to the U.S.

The U.S. and Cuba extradition treaty -- which has a provision saying that Cuba shall not extradite political refugees -- hasn't been updated since 1905.

"I have no idea if we will get back to actually using it," Jacobson said. And she added that her U.S. Department of Justice colleagues would be working on that.

Chesimard was a member of the Black Panther before she joined the Black Liberation Army. She escaped from prison in 1979 and five years later sought political asylum in Cuba. For years, Chesimard has said that she did not kill Foerster, who was the aggressor.

Under New Jersey law, she was an accomplice, who could be charged with murder.

In 2013, she became the only woman on the FBI's Top Ten Most Wanted Terrorists List. Information leading to her arrest carries a $2 million reward.