- The Washington Times - Friday, May 20, 2005

Suspected anti-Castro activist Luis Posada Carriles, accused in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner off Barbados that killed 73 persons, was charged formally yesterday by the U.S. government with illegally entering the United States.

Mr. Posada, 77, was pardoned in August by Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso in connection with a 2000 plot to kill Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and reportedly had been in hiding in Central America. He was taken into custody this week by U.S. immigration agents in Miami.

Venezuela has asked the State Department to extradite Mr. Posada to that country to stand trial for the plane bombing. Cuba also wants him in connection with the 1997 bombings of Havana hotels, one of which killed an Italian tourist.

Mr. Posada will be held without bail while awaiting a hearing before an immigration judge on June 13. He reportedly has been moved by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to an undisclosed location in Texas.

Mr. Posada, a Cuban-born naturalized Venezuelan who worked for the CIA for more than 10 years beginning in 1965, denied any involvement in the 1976 plane bombing in an interview last week with the Miami Herald. But Mr. Castro and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have demanded he be returned to Venezuela to face formal charges.

Mr. Posada escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 while awaiting a court ruling involving an appeal by a prosecutor who objected to an acquittal in the case. He reportedly was involved in anti-Castro activities in United States, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico beginning in 1964.

In November 2000, the Cuban government announced it had uncovered plans to assassinate Mr. Castro at a summit in Panama. Panamanian authorities later found explosives and arrested Mr. Posada and three others. They were convicted of endangering public security.

In August, Mrs. Moscoso pardoned Mr. Posada and allowed him to be flown out of the country, reportedly to Honduras. Authorities said he later entered the United States through Mexico with the help of an alien smuggler.

Mr. Castro said yesterday that the United States was protecting Mr. Posada because it fears he could disclose explosive secrets if tried in open court.

?It is evident the U.S. government’s goal is to protect Posada Carriles and avoid him being tried,? Mr. Castro said on official television.

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