Cuba And Venezuela: U.S. Shields Terrorist

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, left, shakes hands with Cuba's Felipe Perez Roque before a meeting in Caracas, Wednesday, May 9, 2007.
AP
Venezuela and Cuba accused Washington on Wednesday of shielding a terrorist after a judge threw out immigration fraud charges against a man wanted in the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said his government planned to seek international support for the extradition of 79-year-old former CIA operative Luis Posada Carriles.

"What will happen to Posada Carriles is in the hands of the U.S. government," Maduro said, calling the U.S. "that terrorist-protecting government."

He held a news conference alongside Cuban Foreign Minister Felipe Perez Roque, who said the fact that Posada is now free shows the "hypocrisy" of U.S. President George W. Bush's government.

Maduro reiterated demands that Posada either be tried on U.S. soil for the 1976 jetliner bombing off Barbados or be turned over to Venezuela for trial. Venezuela accuses him of plotting the bombing that killed 73 people while he was living in Caracas. Posada has denied involvement.

Maduro called on Americans to protest the White House's handling of the case and demand that "this terrorist be put behind bars where he should be."

"The United States makes a mockery of international organizations, international law and the world's conscience about this case," Maduro said.

A U.S. judge threw out an immigration fraud indictment against Posada on Tuesday.

A longtime opponent of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, Posada was accused of entering the U.S. illegally and was detained in May 2005. Authorities said he later lied about how he entered the country when he sought to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Cuban officials have accused Posada of repeated acts of terrorism, including a hotel bombing in Cuba that killed an Italian tourist. He had denied the allegations.