NLG to U.S.: Prosecute or Extradite Luis Posada Carriles

On Tuesday May 8, U.S. District Court Judge Kathleen Cardone dismissed perjury charges against Luis Posada Carriles. Posada is a Cuban-born terrorist and long-time CIA agent who boasted of helping to detonate deadly bombs in Havana hotels 10 years ago, and was the alleged mastermind of a 1976 bombing of a civilian Cuban airplane that killed 73 people. He escaped from a Venezuelan prison where he was being tried for his role in the first in-air bombing of a civilian airliner. Posada entered the U.S. in March 2005 using false papers and was held in El Paso for lying to Immigration and Customs officials. On April 19, 2007 he was released on bail despite being a flight risk. On Tuesday, all outstanding charges were dismissed, canceling his trial which was set to begin May 11.

National Lawyers Guild President Marjorie Cohn said, “The release of Posada and the mistreatment of the Cuban Five illustrate the hypocrisy of the Bush administration, which incessantly touts its ‘war on terror.’ Bush defines terrorism selectively, as its suits his political purposes.” By releasing Posada, the U.S. government has violated Security Council resolution 1373, passed in the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks. That resolution mandates that all countries deny safe haven to those who commit terrorist acts, and ensure that they are brought to justice. These provisions of resolution 1373 are mandatory, as they were adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. The U.S. government has also violated three treaties that require it to extradite Posada to Venezuela for trial or try him in U.S. courts for offenses committed abroad.

Rep. William Delahunt has called for a congressional hearing to examine the U.S. government’s role in promoting impunity in the Posada case. Delahunt sent a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales requesting an explanation as to why the Justice Department did not invoke the USA Patriot Act to declare Posada a terrorist and detain him, stating, “The release of Mr. Posada puts into question our commitment to fight terrorism.”

Five men, known as the Cuban Five, peacefully infiltrated criminal exile groups in Miami to prevent terrorism against Cuba. The Five turned over the results of their investigation to the FBI. But instead of working with Cuba to fight terrorism, the U.S. government arrested the five Cubans and tried and convicted them of conspiracy-related offenses. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta reversed their convictions, finding they could not receive a fair trial in Miami. In August 2006, a majority of the full circuit rejected the earlier ruling and sent the matter back to the panel where further appeals are pending. The U.S. media has been irresponsibly silent on the case of the Cuban Five and the irregularities of the trial.

The National Lawyers Guild calls on the U.S. government to extradite Luis Carriles Posada to Venezuela to stand trial for the deadly terrorist bombing of the Cuban airliner, or prosecute him in U.S. courts or a competent international tribunal.

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