Orlando Letelier and Ronne Karpen Moffitt were killed by a car bomb on Embassy Row in Washington on Sept. 21, 1976. (Associated Press)

Regarding the Sept. 21 front-page article “40 years later: The murder of Orlando Letelier”:

Many Americans would be puzzled to understand that the man who committed this crime served less than five years in jail and until recently lived under the protection of the Justice Department as a private citizen.

For the past 14 years, Michael Tigar and I and the UNROW legal clinic have challenged the U.S. government in the federal courts to deal with an effort to bring Michael Townley to justice for his alleged crimes elsewhere. Since early 2013, Spain and Chile have petitioned the United States for the extradition of Mr. Townley to stand trial for the kidnapping, torture and disappearance of Carmelo Soria Espinoza, a Spanish diplomat and an adviser to Salvador Allende. Chile recently hardened its request into a demand.

One would assume that, given the horrendous acts alleged, the State Department would be happy to comply with these requests. Instead, it has jeopardized its friendly diplomatic relations with Spain and Chile by refusing to fulfill these extradition requests for Mr. Townley.

Ali Beydoun, Washington

The writer is a lawyer with the UNROW Human Rights Impact Litigation Clinic.