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Cuban workers say Hakkens removed from Havana dock after Cuba said it will return family to U.S. authorities

8:31 PM, Apr 9, 2013   |    comments
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Video: Cuba says it will return Hakken family to the U.S.

CNN video image shows a woman who appears to be Sharyn Hakken with one of her children aboard a sailboat that arrived in Cuba.

 

St. Petersburg, FL -- CBS News has learned that all four members of the fugitive Hakken family were taken away from Havana's Hemingway Marina.

Workers allegedly said the family had been removed from the dock after an Associated Press reporter witnessed Sharyn Hakken leaving in a Cuban government vehicle.

Cuba previously said it will turn Sharyn and Joshua Hakken over to the United States, after the couple allegedly kidnapped their own children from their grandmother's home and fled by boat to Havana.

Foreign Ministry official Johana Tablada tells The Associated Press in a written statement that Cuba has informed U.S. authorities of the country's decision to turn over the family. She did not say when the handover would occur.

A spokesperson for U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor also says the Cuban government is "cooperating" with American authorities in the case.

On Tuesday, CNN spotted the family in Cuba and released video showing one of the couple's sons on the boat the family apparently used to sail to the Communist country.

Before the announcement came that the family would be returned to the U.S. on Tuesday afternoon, St. Petersburg immigration attorney Arturo Rios told 10 News Hakken was wrong to think he'd definitely be safe from extradition in Cuba. 

Rios says in 1926, Cuba signed an extradition treaty with the U.S. However, the treaty is not always honored and Rios notes Cuba also didn't sign the Hague Abduction Convention, which covers parental kidnapping.

"The reality is that ever since Fidel Castro came into power, it's been up to the Cubans when there's a treaty or not, if you will," Rios told 10 News.

The FBI says there are about 70 American fugitives in Cuba. 

But in recent years, the Cuban government has extradited or deported a number of American fugitives, including John Egan, who was wanted for bank fraud; Leonard Auerbach, who was wanted for sexually abusing a young girl; and David Ray Franklin, who abducted his son in 2006 and then stole a plane in the Florida Keys before flying to Cuba. 

A short time later, Cuba helped return the boy to his biological mom while Franklin was returned to face prosecution in the U.S.

While Cuba may not be an ally, Rios says it may also not be the best place for American fugitives, especially at a time when Castor is trying to make the case that Cuba is changing and the countries need to normalize relations.

"I think Cuba has a lot to gain here."

Rios adds Cuban President Raul Castro could make an international statement by having the Hakkens arrested and sent back to the U.S. along with their boys.

"If he wants to step up to bat and try to open up a pathway to a good relationship with the United States, I think he's getting the opportunity here on a silver platter."

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