Colombia fights U.S. diver for treasure





BOGOTA, Colombia - The Spanish galleon San Jose was trying to outrun a fleet of British warships off Colombia's coast on June 8, 1708, when a mysterious explosion sent it to the bottom of the sea with gold, silver and emeralds now valued at more than $2 billion.

Three centuries later, a bitter legal and political dispute over the San Jose is still raging, with the Colombian Supreme Court expected to rule this week on rival claims by the government and a group of U.S. investors to what is reputed to be the world's richest shipwreck.

Anxiously awaiting the decision is Jack Harbeston, managing director of the Cayman Islands-registered commercial salvage company Sea Search Armada, who has taken on seven Colombian administrations over two decades in a legal fight to claim half the sunken hulk's riches.

"If I had known it was going to take this long, I wouldn't have gotten involved in the first place," said Harbeston, 75, who lives in Bellevue, Wash.




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