Yuri Cortez  /  AFP - Getty Images file
A record at the Salvadoran Interior Ministry’s Immigration Service in November 2000 shows Cuban dissident Luis Posada Carriles, using the name Franco Rodriguez Mena to obtain legal travel documents. Carriles was under arrest in Panama for plotting to assassinate Cuban President Fidel Castro at the time but was later pardoned.
updated 4/12/2005 3:21:05 PM ET 2005-04-12T19:21:05

A Cuban militant accused of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro and wanted by Venezuela for allegedly blowing up a Cuban airliner in 1976 is in the United States and will file a petition for political asylum, his attorney said Monday.

Luis Posada Carriles, 77, will seek asylum in the United States based in part on his claim that he worked “directly and indirectly” for the CIA for years, said attorney Eduardo Soto.

“We think he deserves the protection of the United States,” Soto said in an interview. “It’s our position that he is a person who furthered the interests of the United States.”

The asylum application will be filed Wednesday with the Homeland Security Department, Soto said. Foreigners who seek asylum generally get to stay in the United States while their cases are decided and can remain permanently if they prove persecution or that they fear for their lives.

Well-placed friends
The CIA would not say whether Posada ever worked for the United States.

Cuba after the revolution“We don’t as a routine matter comment on anything that is in litigation or pending litigation,” said CIA spokeswoman Anya Guilsher.

Nina Pruneda, spokeswoman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Miami, said Posada is not yet in U.S. custody.

Soto declined to say precisely where Posada is located or exactly when and where he entered the United States. Posada has a number of financial backers and other supporters in the Cuban-American community.

Posada is a longtime foe of Castro who was imprisoned in Panama — and then pardoned — for his role in an alleged plot to kill the Cuban president at a meeting in Panama in 2000. He is a veteran of the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 and was linked to a series of 1997 bombings of prominent Cuban tourist spots.

Castro furious about asylum request
News of Posada’s impending asylum request infuriated Castro, who went on state television Monday night in Havana to recount the many crimes the communist government has accused Posada of.

Castro said that the U.S. government would be an accomplice to international terrorism if it granted the asylum request. He sneered at news reports quoting American authorities denying knowledge of Posada’s past and plans.

Posada is wanted for escaping from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 while awaiting the outcome of a prosecutor’s appeal of his acquittal in the airline bombing case.

Soto said Posada will argue that he unjustly spent years in the Venezuelan prison even though he was acquitted twice in the airline bombing, which killed 73 people.

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