Argentine president bars extradition of FEMA photographer Kurt Sonnenfeld in Denver murder case

DENVER - Argentina's president has blocked the extradition of a man who fled Denver and started a new life in the South American country after he was charged with killing his wife over a decade ago.

The Denver Post reports the government of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner issued an executive order in September overriding the extradition of Kurt Sonnenfeld to the U.S.

The Argentina Supreme Court had approved the extradition in December.

The government's order says allowing the extradition could violate an international principle of not forcing the return of asylum seekers to countries where they could face persecution.

Sonnenfeld claims prosecutors framed him for his wife's 2002 death to silence him. He claimed to have video footage indicating the government knew the Sept. 11, 2011, terrorist attacks would happen. Sonnenfeld was a FEMA videographer who documented disaster sites, including the Sept 11 attacks in New York. He and his team spent three weeks videotaping Ground Zero, and were widely recognized and respected for that work.

Nancy Sonnenfeld, 36, was found shot in the couple's bedroom on New Year's Day. Kurt Sonnenfeld had said that he was checking his e-mail in his bedroom after Nancy and he returned home in the early morning hours of New Year's Day when he heard a gunshot.

Police had initially ruled out a suicide because it appeared that Nancy had been shot in the back of her head. The coroner's report said that the bullet entered about 2 inches above and behind her right ear. Police also noted that the .45-caliber handgun was on the floor 6 to 8 feet away from Nancy.

Kurt Sonnenfeld pleaded not guilty to the first-degree murder charge, but the day before his trial was set to begin, then Denver District Attorney Bill Ritter dismissed the case, saying that there was not enough evidence to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

However, Ritter did not close the investigation. After interviewing additional witnesses, obtaining more forensic evidence and gathering more blood work, Ritter filed an at-large arrest warrant in December 2003 for Sonnenfeld, which was distributed nationally and globally.

In 2004, Sonnenfeld was found living in Buenos Aires and was arrested. CBS's "48 Hours" is airing a broadcast called "The Strange Case of Kurt Sonnenfeld" on Saturday.

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