Manuel Antonio Noriega Moreno (Spanish pronunciation: ; born February 11, 1934) is a Panamanian politician and soldier. He was military dictator of Panama from 1983 to 1989.
The 1989 invasion of Panama by the United States removed him from power; he was captured, detained as a prisoner of war, and flown to the United States. Noriega was tried on eight counts of drug trafficking, racketeering, and money laundering in April 1992. Noriega's U.S. prison sentence ended in September 2007; pending the outcome of extradition requests by both Panama and France, for convictions in absentia for murder in 1995 and money laundering in 1999, respectively. France was granted its extradition request in April 2010. He arrived in Paris on April 27, 2010, and after a re-trial as a condition of the extradition, he was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in jail in July 2010.
Born in Panama City, Noriega was a career soldier, receiving much of his education at the Military School of Chorrillos in Lima, Peru. He also received intelligence and counterintelligence training at the School of the Americas at the U.S. Army base Fort Gulick in 1967, as well as a course in psychological operations (psyops) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He was commissioned in the Panama National Guard in 1967 and promoted to lieutenant in 1968. It has been alleged that he was part of the military coup that removed Arnulfo Arias from power, although in Noriega's account of the 1968 coup, neither he nor his mentor Omar Torrijos were involved. In the power struggle that followed, including a failed coup attempt in 1969, Noriega supported Torrijos. He received a promotion to lieutenant colonel and was appointed chief of military intelligence by Torrijos. Noriega claims that, following Torrijos' instructions, he negotiated an amnesty for about 400 defeated guerrilla fighters, enabling them to return from exile in Honduras and Costa Rica.