On Sept. 11 US magistrate Norbert Garney in El Paso, Tex., ruled that US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) should release Cuban-born Venezuelan national Luis Posada Carriles under supervision. Garney’s decision is a recommendation, and he sent it to district judge Philip Martinez, who can decide to accept or reject the ruling. Posada is a longtime “asset” of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who is wanted in Venezuela for allegedly planning the 1976 bombing of an Cubana de Aviacion airliner, in which 73 people died.
Posada entered the US illegally in March 2005. The US arrested him on May 17, 2005, and is holding him in an El Paso detention center pending deportation. On May 27, 2005, Venezuela filed an extradition request in connection with the 1976 bombing, but the US has failed to act on it. In September 2005 an immigration judge ruled that Posada could not be deported to Venezuela or Cuba on the grounds that he might be tortured there; since then no third country has offered to take him.
Magistrate Garney based his ruling on the Supreme Court’s June 2001 decision in Zadvydas v. Davis that immigration detainees cannot generally be held for longer than six months when there is no prospect that they will be removed, unless they are “especially dangerous individuals.” ICE said Posada was a “danger to the community” and posed a “risk to the national security of the United States,” but Garney ruled this wasn’t sufficient, since US attorney general Alberto Gonzales hadn’t certified that Posada was a terrorist or a threat. (Miami Herald, Granma, Sept. 12)
From Weekly News Update on the Americas, Sept. 17