HOUSTON -- A judge threw out an immigration fraud indictment against a former CIA operative, drawing accusations from Cuba and Venezuela that the White House had manipulated the legal system.
Luis Posada Carriles, 79, a fierce opponent of Fidel Castro, was accused of entering the United States 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 US citizen.
Cuba and Venezuela also want Posada, but for other charges. They want him extradited for the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner, an attack that killed 73 people. Posada has denied involvement.
The judge's ruling Tuesday did not involve the extradition requests.
In throwing out the fraud indictment, US District Judge Kathleen Cardone said the government manipulated Posada's naturalization interview. She said the government's Spanish-to-English interpretation of the April 2006 interview was "so inaccurate as to render it unreliable as evidence of defendant's actual statement."
Cardone said in her ruling that the transcript was imprecise, omitted key elements of the interview, and appears to have been transcribed by several different people of varying skill.
She agreed with defense attorneys who argued that the naturalization interview had been a pretext for a criminal investigation of Posada.