US asks Honduras to arrest and extradite former president Juan Hernandez

Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernandez. Photograph: Orlando Sierra/AFP via Getty

The United States has asked Honduras to arrest former president Juan Orlando Hernandez for his eventual extradition to the US.

National Police and soldiers surrounded the neighbourhood around Mr Hernandez’s home on Monday night.

Honduras’s foreign affairs ministry initially said via Twitter that it had notified the country’s supreme court that the US embassy had formally requested the arrest of a Honduran politician for the purposes of extradition.

The ministry did not identify the politician. But the country’s current vice-president, Salvador Nasralla, confirmed to The Associated Press that request names Mr Hernandez.

CNN en Espanol first reported that the politician was Mr Hernandez, showing the communication from the ministry to the court naming the former president.

Nicole Navas, a spokeswoman for the US Department of Justice, declined to comment. The US State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr Hernandez left office on January 27th with the swearing in of president Xiomara Castro. The same day Mr Hernandez left office he was sworn in as Honduras’s representative to the Central American Parliament.

With a weak and co-opted Honduran justice system, Hondurans’ hope for justice had rested for years with US federal prosecutors in New York, where a string of revelations against Mr Hernandez was closely followed back home.

Speculation had swirled for months over whether Mr Hernandez would be charged once he was no longer president, because US prosecutors repeatedly implicated him in his brother’s 2019 drug trafficking trial, alleging that his political rise was fuelled by drug profits.

Mr Hernandez strongly denied any such activities.