Anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, an aging ex-CIA operative suspected in a decades-old Cuban airliner bombing, was released from U.S. custody Thursday and flew to Miami as he awaits trial on immigration fraud charges.
Posada was released from a New Mexico jail after posting bond and will stay at his wife’s house in Miami, said his lawyer, Felipe D.J. Millan. He was required to post a $250,000 bond and his wife, daughter and son were required to post a $100,000 bond to secure his release.
U.S. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Posada was required to report to pretrial services immediately upon his arrival in Miami to receive an electronic monitoring device.
Posada was accompanied by U.S. marshals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.
Faces immigration trial
The 79-year-old is awaiting a May 11 trial on allegations that he lied to immigration authorities while trying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.
Earlier this week, an appeals court in New Orleans rejected the federal government’s bid to keep Posada jailed until his trial. The release order puts him under 24-hour house arrest and requires an electronic monitoring device.
Posada is wanted in his native Cuba and in Venezuela, where he is accused of plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner that killed 73 people.
A judge ruled that he couldn’t be deported to those countries because he might be tortured, and no other country has agreed to take him.
Attorneys for Venezuela have argued that under international law, if the United States decides not to return Posada to Venezuela, it should try him on the bombing charges.
Under the conditions of his release, Posada must try to find a country willing to take him, ICE officials said.
Posada has been jailed since March 2005, when he was caught in Miami and sent to El Paso to face immigration charges.
In Miami, his return was hailed by some who view him as a freedom fighter.
“He’s quite old and in bad health. We believe he should be with his family and will not be a risk,” said Angel De Fana, who heads a Miami-based group that supports political prisoners in Cuba and wrote a letter in favor of Posada’s release.
Cuban media charges hypocrisy
Cuban media has been filled in recent days with condemnations of Posada’s possible release, accusing the United States of having a double standard on terrorism. Government television was to air a special program on Posada’s release later Thursday.
“The infamy has been consummated,” official station Radio Reloj declared.
“Cuba energetically condemns this decision and holds the United States government responsible,” said Dagoberto Rodriguez Barrera, chief of the Cuban Interests Section in Washington.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Castro ally, on Thursday called Posada’s release proof of U.S. hypocrisy in its war on terror.
“They say they fight against terrorism, (but) there it is! Their mask keeps falling off,” Chavez said. “The U.S. empire will end up being a paper tiger, and we will be tigers of steel!”