Updated Feb 15, 2022 - World

Honduras President Hernández detained after U.S. extradition request

Honduras' president Juan Orlando Hernandez attends a Group E football match between Honduras and Ecuador at the Baixada Arena in Curitiba during the 2014 FIFA World Cup on June 20, 2014

Honduras' then-President Juan Orlando Hernández attending a 2014 FIFA World Cup soccer match between Honduras and Ecuador in Curitiba. Photo: Rodrigo Arangua/AFP via Getty Images

Honduras President Juan Orlando Hernández turned himself in to the authorities Tuesday following an extradition request by the U.S., the New York Times reported.

The latest: “It’s not an easy moment, I don’t wish it on anybody,” Hernández said in an audio message on Twitter Tuesday.

  • “I’m ready to present myself voluntarily and defend myself in accordance with the law,” he wrote in another message on Facebook.

State of play: Honduras police officers surrounded the home of former President Juan Orlando Hernández Monday night, per Reuters.

  • Hernández could face extradition and drug charges in the U.S., per the Times.

Why it matters: Hernández has since 2017 been embroiled in accusations of electoral fraud and was named as a co-conspirator in a 2021 New York drug trafficking case.

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said this month there are "credible reports that Hernández "engaged in significant corruption by committing or facilitating acts of corruption and narco-trafficking."
  • There's also credible evidence that Hernández, who denies any wrongdoing, used the "proceeds of illicit activity to facilitate political campaigns," Blinken said.

Details: Rasel Tomé, vice president of the newly elected National Congress, told AP that Hernández, who left office on Jan. 27 after eight years as president, "had to turn himself in" by Tuesday morning "or he would be captured."

  • Honduras' Foreign Ministry tweeted on Monday evening the it had received a formal request from the U.S. to "arrest a Honduran politician," but it did not name him.

Worth noting: Blinken tweeted on Feb. 7 that the U.S. was "advancing transparency and accountability in Central America by making public visa restrictions" against Hernández "on account of corrupt actions."

  • "No one is above the law," Blinken added.
  • Representatives for the U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper: Central American leaders targeted for corruption sanctions

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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