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Feds ask court to toss Cuban militant's bid for release

by Alicia A. Caldwell
Feb. 1, 2007
Reprinted from AP

U.S. immigration officials have asked a federal judge to toss out Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles' bid to be set free pending his ordered deportation.

In a four-page motion filed Wednesday in El Paso, the government argued that Posada's lawsuit is moot because he was transferred to the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service after being indicted Jan. 11. He had filed the lawsuit last year after spending nearly a year in a federal detention center on an immigration violation. He has been charged with several counts of lying during an interview and on an application in a bid to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Posada, who has pleaded not guilty, is being held without bond at the Otero County jail in New Mexico.

The motion was filed a day before a court-imposed deadline for immigration authorities to justify Posada's continued detention pending his deportation.

A federal immigration judge ruled in 2005 that Posada, a former CIA operative and U.S. Army soldier who had roles in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and the Iran-Contra scandal, had to leave the U.S. But Judge William L. Abbott also ruled that the ailing anti-Castro militant could not be sent to Venezuela, where is a naturalized citizen, or Cuba, where he was born, because of fears that he would be tortured.

Governments of both countries want Posada sent to Venezuela to stand trial on charges that he was in Caracas when he planned the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner. Posada has denied any wrongdoing.

Several countries, including Mexico, have refused to let Posada in and Posada has argued that he should be set free while the government continues efforts to find some place to send him.

The motion filed Wednesday argues that because Posada is no longer being held by immigration authorities, the court cannot order them to release him.

Felipe D.J. Millan, Posada's El Paso lawyer, said the motion was a stalling tactic.

"This is an issue that has to be addressed sooner or later," Millan said. "What is the government going to do with Mr. Posada once he is deemed guilty, or not guilty? That's something that needs to be addressed now. It's not a moot issue. He is in marshal custody, we don't dispute that. But at some point he is going to go back to immigration custody."

Millan said Posada's legal team is preparing a response.


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