New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is trying to rebuild momentum for his fledgling presidential campaign, submitted a letter to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey asking the agency to ban flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Havana until 67-year-old convicted murderer
Joanne Chesimard is returned, MSNBC reported.
Chesimard, a former member of the Black Panthers and the Black Liberation Army, escaped from prison and went to Cuba in 1979 after her conviction for the murder of police officer Werner Foerster; she was eventually granted asylum under President Fidel Castro in 1984, according to the MSNBC article.
“I will not tolerate rewarding the Cuban government for continuing to harbor a fugitive,” Christie wrote to Port Authority Chief John Degnan, the report stated.
Rahsaan Johnson, a spokesman for United Airlines who was quoted by MSNBC, said the airline is “very interested in serving Cuba as soon as we are able to do so, and believe United’s service would benefit the airport and the region.” There are currently no commercial flights between the U.S. and Cuba.
A related Fox News article claimed United's relationship with the Port Authority has recently come under federal scrutiny amid allegations that the airline resumed regular flight service from Newark to South Carolina, near where the Port Authority's former chairman had a vacation home, while simultaneously pressing the agency for concessions, such as a new hangar at Newark Liberty International Airport.
Christie has been a critic of President Obama’s Cuba policy following the president’s decision to normalize relations with the island, going as far as to call the move “a national disgrace,” MSNBC stated.