Comité Nacional por la Libertad de los Cinco Cubanos

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Grand jury indicts Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles and two associates

by Alfonso Chardy and Jay Weaver
Jan. 12, 2007
Reprinted from the Miami Herald

A federal grand jury in El Paso, Texas handed down a seven-count indictment today against Cuban exile militant Luis Posada Carriles, charging him with lying about how he sneaked into the United States in March 2005. It is the first time the CIA-trained Posada has been charged with a crime in the United States.

His chief benefactor, Santiago Alvarez, and another supporter -- Osvaldo Mitat -- were also indicted after they refused to testify before the same grand jury today. They were charged with contempt of court when they invoked their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The indictment accused Posada, 78, of making false statements to immigration officials about how he arrived in the United States. Posada has insisted he came through the Mexican border, but the indictment asserted Posada entered the United States by sea aboard the shrimping vessel Santrina crewed by Alvarez, Mitat and others.

This is the first time Posada has been criminally charged in the United States, the country he viewed as an ally and safe haven because of his past connections to the CIA and the U.S. military. By indicting Posada, the federal government ensures his continued detention.

The possibility of Posada's release loomed closer after a federal judge in El Paso, in a separate case, set a Feb. 1 deadline for the U.S. government to justify the militant's continued detention. The judge's action came after a federal magistrate recommended that Posada be released. The U.S. government objected on the ground that releasing Posada -- who Cuba and Venezuela consider a ''terrorist'' -- could pose adverse foreign policy consequences.

Posada has been in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement since he was detained in Miami-Dade County on May 17, 2005. He was then flown to El Paso where he has been held at an immigration facility.

Posada is wanted in Venezuela for his alleged role in the bombing of a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 people and in Cuba for his alleged role in the bombing of several tourist sites in 1997 that killed one Italian tourist.

The indictment alleged Posada made the false statements on his application for naturalization ''on or about Sept. 10, 2005,'' the Justice Department said.

The indictment also alleges that he knowingly made false statements under oath during his naturalization interview with Department of Homeland Security officials on April 25 and 26, 2006.

In his naturalization interview, the Justice Department said, Posada allegedly made several false statements regarding his March 2005 entry into the United States, ``including statements about the transportation routes and methods used, as well as individuals who accompanied him.''

For example, the indictment charges that Posada said he ''traveled from Honduras through Belize and entered the United States over land near Matamoros, Mexico, and Brownsville, Texas,'' with the assistance of an unidentified alien smuggler.

In fact, the indictment said, Posada entered the United States aboard the Santrina accompanied by Alvarez and Mitat among others.




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