Cuban militant withdraws request for asylum
EL PASO, Texas – An anti-Castro militant accused of entering the country illegally withdrew his request for U.S. asylum Wednesday, and his lawyers said they will focus instead on trying to prevent his deportation to Venezuela.Luis Posada Carriles claims he will be mistreated if he is returned to Venezuela to face charges that he plotted the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner while he was in Caracas.Attorneys for the U.S. and Posada have agreed that Posada should not be deported to Cuba.For its part, the Cuban government has said it would not seek Posada’s return but does support Venezuela’s extradition request.Immigration Judge William L. Abbott has designated Venezuela, where Posada is a naturalized citizen, as the country where he should be sent.Lawyers for the U.S. government have said they need more information before deciding if they would oppose that decision. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Sept. 26.Matthew Archambeault, one of Posada’s Florida-based lawyers, has repeatedly cited international conventions against torture in his requests to keep Posada in the United States.Gina Garrett-Jackson, lead attorney for the government, acknowledged Wednesday that the Department of Homeland Security had “serious concerns” about Posada’s claim that he would face torture in Venezuela. She didn’t elaborate.The Venezuelan government has not commented publicly on Posada’s torture claims.Archambeault told the judge that Posada, a one-time CIA operative, decided to withdraw his asylum request to avoid embarrassing the U.S. government.Explanations to questions posed to Posada by government lawyers Tuesday “may step in areas sensitive to the U.S. government and other … governments,” Archambeault said.His lawyer also told the judge that Posada would ask to have any order sending him to Venezuela deferred. That would allow him to stay in the U.S., without any specific legal status, while the government finds another country to send him to or conditions in Venezuela change.The judge said Wednesday that he would be amenable to granting a request to defer extradition, but a final decision is not expected until at least the September hearing.Posada, who also was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, was trained by the CIA to help in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, though his lawyers say he didn’t participate.Abbott had said that Posada’s role in terrorist attacks, if any, would have been considered in his asylum case and had asked lawyers in the case to provide briefs on whether the attempt to topple Fidel Castro’s Communist government was an act of terrorism.Archambeault said “we both punted” on that issue. The government, he said, pledged to steer clear of the issue.While the case continues, Archambeault said Posada will file for U.S. citizenship and plans to cite his military service in the application.On Tuesday, the judge heard from a former Venezuelan security official and longtime Posada associate who said that if the anti-Castro activist is deported or extradited to Venezuela he would surely suffer torture.Joaquin F. Chaffardet Ramos said he also believed that the Venezuelan government would send Posada to Cuba after stripping him of his citizenship.Venezuela has pledged to keep Posada in the country and vowed to put him on trial. A military court there acquitted Posada of charges connected to the bombing but that decision was later thrown out. Posada escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 before a civilian trial was completed.He’s been held in an El Paso detention center since shortly after his May arrest in Miami.Vail – Colorado
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