Luis Posada Carriles, citizen of Venezuela and Cuba, arrived in Florida last March. He has been detained since May 17 for immigration law violations. Those are the only charges against him, despite his confessed crimes of murder, downing a Cuban airliner, bombing Havana hotels and an attempt to assassinate Fidel Castro.

Last September a Texas immigration judge ruled against his extradition to Venezuela, ordered him deported elsewhere, and called for his release in six months should no country be found to take him in. On March 22, the U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement Agency (ICE) announced that Posada would remain in U.S. detention “for the foreseeable future.”

The same day Posada learned he is regarded as a security risk. In a letter, the ICE referred to “your long history of criminal activity and violence in which innocent civilians were killed.” A 2001 Supreme Court decision ruled that undocumented immigrants could be detained indefinitely if they present a risk to national security.

On April 6, Posada’s lawyer filed a writ of habeas corpus on grounds that such a risk was unproven. Eduardo Soto requested that Posada’s case be moved to federal court, that he be released or expelled from the country, and that in the interim he live at home in Miami. Posada has applied for U.S. citizenship. Immigration laws make citizenship available to foreign nationals with U.S. military service. Posada served with the U.S. Army and CIA.

That’s a maneuver to waylay extradition, according to Jose Pertierra, Venezuela’s lawyer in Washington. The prospect or reality of U.S. citizenship would immunize Posada against foreign prosecution. The lawyer pointed out, however, that a felony conviction in Panama (for the assassination attempt against Fidel Castro) disqualifies Posada for citizenship.

Posada is being moved from El Paso to South Florida for the upcoming trial of developer Santiago Alvarez, one of his financial backers. On Nov. 18, Gilberto Abascal steered the FBI to Alvarez’s illegal stash of weapons in Fort Lauderdale. As a defense witness, Posada will try to discredit him as a Cuban agent.

Alvarez and Posada will no doubt present themselves as heroes of the right-wing, anti-Cuba exile community. The stage is being set for a campaign to sway judge and jury.

The longer Posada stays in Florida, the more likely he will be released on parole, according to Pertierra, especially if illness and disability become factors. At 78 years of age, the terrorist may be freed, “little by little,” the lawyer warned.

The contradictions are obvious. The Bush administration purports to be waging a war on terrorism, yet a terrorist in U.S. custody is free to maneuver and manipulate.

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