Caracas, Venezuela, April 13, 2005—Venezuela formally asked U.S. authorities to extradite an escaped prisoner who was responsible for the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976, in which 73 persons were killed. The former prisoner, Luis Posada Carriles, is a Cuban exile who had escaped a Venezuelan prison in 1985. For a while he lived in Panama, where he was also captured for planning an assassination of Cuba’s President Fidel Castro in 2000. He was then pardoned in Panama, though, and entered the U.S. about a month ago.
Venezuela’s Vice-President, José Vicente Rangel, said, “We going to step up our demands for extradition.” “I hope Mr. Bush will take note of his own anti-terrorism policies and hand over Posada Carriles,” added Rangel.
Posada Carriles’ attorney says that the U.S. should deny the extradition request because he was acquitted in Venezuela of the bombing of the Cuban airliner. Also, if deported to Cuba, he would face possible execution.
Rangel pointed out that it is no wonder that Posada Carriles is requesting asylum in the U.S., “because during all of the acts that he participated in he did so while he was an employee of the CIA.”
On Monday, Cuba’s Castro said that if the U.S. denies the extradition request, then it would effectively be backing international terrorism. He also noted that Bush once said that whoever harbors a terrorist is as guilty of terrorism as the terrorist himself.
According to Associated Press, an unidentified U.S. official said that Posada is “excludable” from the U.S. because of his involvement in the plane bombing.
Carriles Posada, who is 77 years old and dual Venezuelan-Cuban citizenship, is a veteran of the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961 and has also been connected to a string of bombings in Cuban tourist locations in 1997. He escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985, disguised as a priest, while prosecutors appealed his acquittal.
The extradition request is one of several that Venezuela has pending in the U.S. Two other requests involve Venezuelan citizens who are wanted for the bombing of the Colombian and Spanish consulates in Venezuela in February 2003.