EL PASO -- An anti-Castro militant accused of entering the country illegally withdrew his request for US asylum yesterday, and his lawyers said they will focus instead on trying to prevent his deportation to Venezuela.
Luis Posada Carriles contends he will be mistreated if he is returned to Venezuela to face charges that he plotted the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner while in Caracas. Attorneys for the United States and Posada have agreed that Posada should not be deported to Cuba.
Immigration Judge William L. Abbott has designated Venezuela, where Posada is a naturalized citizen, as the country where he should be sent. Lawyers for the government have said they need more information before deciding whether they would oppose that decision. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Sept. 26.
Venezuela has pledged not to send Posada to Cuba, but has said it would put him on trial. A military court there acquitted Posada of charges connected to the bombing, but that decision was later thrown out and the case was transferred to a civilian court. Posada escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 before the civilian trial was completed.
Posada received CIA training for the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba in 1961, though his lawyers said he didn't participate.
Along with the deportation question, the judge has asked lawyers in the case to provide briefs on whether the attempt to topple Fidel Castro's Communist government was an act of terrorism.
On Tuesday, the judge heard from a former Venezuelan security official and longtime Posada associate who said that if the anti- Castro militant is deported or extradited to Venezuela he would surely suffer torture. Joaquin F. Chaffardet Ramos, a lawyer from Caracas, said he also believed that the Venezuelan government would send Posada to Cuba after stripping him of his citizenship.