Posada Withdraws Asylum Petition
By Tom Crumpacker
Luis Posada Carriles, a Cuban dissident and paid informant for the CIA during the 1970s and 1980s is wanted in Venezuela for masterminding the bombing of a Cuban jetliner in 1976, killing 73, and the 1997 Havana hotel bombings. Posada, was smuggled into the United States via Mexico. He is currently on trial for illegal entry into the U.S.
This is an initial report from Tom Crumpacker, on assignment for Socialist Viewpoint to cover this important trial.
There were no witnesses today and the matter was continued to September 26 at 8:30 a.m. The attorneys were conferring in the hall for an hour while the press, Posada and judge waited in the courtroom. When they came back Posada’s lawyer stated to the judge that Posada, because of his concern about his having to testify further might embarrass the U.S. and endanger its security, had decided to withdraw his claim for asylum, but would continue seeking CAT protection regarding Venezuela. (This in fact is what he has really been seeking all along.) CAT is the Convention Against Torture. It prevents people from being sent, either by way of deportation or extradition, to countries which torture people. They can be held in U.S. without immigration status such as a resident green card. They can be held in custody, or apparently, under some circumstances (if not dangerous, to be determined later), they can be paroled and allowed to live freely in the U.S. and work.
In order to get CAT protection, the deportee or accused must establish as a “clear probability” that he will be tortured if sent to such a country (Venezuela in this case). Based on the equivocal testimony yesterday by longtime Posada friend, Venezuelan lawyer Chaffardet (he was not even cross-examined), Judge Abbott held today that Posada had established a prima facie case for CAT protection, that is, at this point the proof has established a clear probability that Venezuela would torture him if he was sent there. It’s now up to the Homeland lawyers to rebut this prima facie case, which they can do by presenting evidence of trial and legal conditions in Venezuela at the hearing on September 26—and there is enough evidence to convince the judge that Posada would not be tortured in Venezuela.
The government lawyer was not prepared to do this today. She said Homeland had “serious and grave” concerns about the torture situation in Venezuela. She might want to rebut Posada’s evidence, and she might not. Homeland is in constant contact with the State Department and the Justice Department about this.
The judge pointed out that CAT also provides that the U.S. can also seek as a condition of deporting or extraditing Posada, a promise by Venezuela that they would not torture him. In such a case, if the promise is sufficiently reliable, the CAT protection could be removed and he would be sent there. However the judge said he had never, in his 10 years as an immigration judge, seen the government do this.
The judge also indicated that he would issue a written order regarding this today. While there were some agreements on exhibits, Posada’s lawyer held a press conference after the hearing, in which he talked about his client’s honor in protecting U.S. security. He also said Posada will shortly be applying for U.S. citizenship.
To me as a lawyer, the injustice and absurdity of this case is too much to stomach. This man, the worst terrorist in the hemisphere, who has bombed a civilian airliner in flight and murdered hundreds of innocent people, all at the direction of the CIA and DISIP, is now well on his way to be honored and rewarded for his service by protection from the Venezuelan justice system solely on the basis of a friend’s (head of DISIP at the time of the airliner bombing) testimony about one instance of seeing three men with black eyes in a Venezuelan court. This comes at a time when our CIA is kidnapping people all over the world and taking them to countries like Egypt and Jordan to be tortured to get information the CIA deems useful to the U.S. To call this justice is insane. I call it shocking and revolting.