Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Posada Carriles - We'll Know in 48 Hours!

Posada Carriles, who is wanted in Cuba and Venezuela for alleged acts of terrorism, including the bombing of an airliner in 1976, has just been arrested in Florida by federal agents with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). According to the report at CNN, he was detained in response to an official request from Venezuela for his arrest and extradition made to the State Department.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said Venezuelan authorities had asked the federal government to arrest Posada and the request was referred to the Justice Department.

The initial demands for Carriles' extradition made by Castro were ignored becuase the United States doesn't have official diplomatic relations with Cuba. However, now that we have him in custody, we have 48 hours to consider the legal mine-field of his status here. I had believed we really had no choice but to extradite him to Venezuela, but a closer look at the circumstances makes me a little more cautious.

Carriles was convicted of the bombings in Panama, where he served the resulting jail sentence until he was pardoned in 2004 by then Panamanian President Mireya Moscoso. He is still wanted in Venezuela, but a statement issued by the ICE indicates the U.S. does not extradite people to nation's that we believe are operating on Cuba's behalf.

The Homeland Security Department issued a statement after Posada's arrest that said the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has 48 hours to rule on his immigration status.

"As a matter of immigration law and policy, ICE does not generally remove people to Cuba, nor does ICE generally remove people to countries believed to be acting on Cuba's behalf," the statement said.

Of course, this leaves a lot wriggle room for the State Department as I don't believe Posada Carriles is a general case for the ICE. As I point out in my analysis of our immigration rules for extradition, Posada Carriles certainly classifies as an inadmissible alien, which makes his extradition to Venezuela imminent.

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