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Anti-Castro militant freed from custody

Awaits trial on immigration fraud charges

MIAMI -- Anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, a former CIA operative suspected in a decades-old Cuban airliner bombing, was released from US custody yesterday 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.

Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Posada was required to report to pretrial services immediately upon his arrival in Miami. There, he will receive an electronic monitoring device.

Posada was accompanied by US marshals, said officials with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Posada, 79, is awaiting a May 11 trial on allegations that he lied to immigration authorities while trying to become a naturalized 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 stipulates that he wear 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 could not 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.

Posada's return was hailed by some in Miami 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 have been filled in recent days with condemnations of Posada's possible release, saying President Bush would be ultimately responsible if the anti-Castro fighter went free. In a written message last week, the Castro government accused the Bush administration of deciding "the liberation of the monster beforehand."

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, a Castro ally, yesterday called Posada's release proof of US hypocrisy in its war on terrorism.

"They say they fight against terrorism, [but] there it is! Their mask keeps falling off," Chávez said. "The US empire will end up being a paper tiger, and we will be tigers of steel!"

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