By CURT ANDERSON | Associated Press Writer
Declassified documents made public Tuesday link a Cuban exile seeking U.S. asylum ó long regarded as a violent opponent of Fidel Castro ó to a plot to bomb a Cuban airliner in 1976 and indicate he was on the CIA’s payroll for years.
One FBI document dated Nov. 3, 1976, quotes a confidential informant saying Luis Posada Carriles was among a group that discussed “the bombing of a Cubana Airlines airplane” before an attack at a hotel bar in Caracas, Venezuela.
Posada, a former senior officer of the Venezuelan intelligence service, denies involvement in the bombing, which killed 73 people, including 24 members of Cuba’s national fencing team, according to his lawyer, Eduardo Soto.
Soto did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday.
Other documents say Posada was also a CIA agent in the 1960s and that he was paid about $300 by the CIA while working with an alliance of several groups based in the Dominican Republic that sought Castro’s overthrow.
Still another FBI document quoted an unnamed Cuban refugee as saying Posada was paid $5,000 in 1965 by a prominent Cuban exile in Miami to finance an attempt to attach powerful explosive mines to Cuban or Soviet ships in the port of Veracruz, Mexico.
The documents were released by the National Security Archive, a nonprofit organization based at George Washington University that collects government records.
Their release comes as U.S. officials wrestle with the political asylum request from Posada, who is regarded by Cuba, Venezuela and some in the United States as a criminal or terrorist.
In a televised appearance Tuesday, Castro dedicated more than an hour to listing numerous terrorist actions Cuban officials attribute to Posada or his associates, and suggested Posada might have ties the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
“There are strange things, very strange, mixed up here,” Castro said.
On Monday, State Department spokesman Tom Casey had declined to discuss Posada’s past, saying only the United States “has no interest in allowing anyone with a criminal background to enter the United States.”
“This declassified dossier is a record of Luis Posada’s career in violence,” said Peter Kornbluh, director of the Archive’s Cuba Documentation Project. “In this day and age, the U.S. cannot wage a war on international terrorism on the one hand and allow someone with this kind of record to live here on the other.”
Soto said last month that Posada, 77, slipped into the United States via Mexico in mid-March and deserves asylum because of his work with the CIA and long opposition to Castro.
Posada is believed to be in hiding in the Miami area but FBI and immigration officials say they cannot confirm his whereabouts. Venezuela is seeking the extradition of Posada, who escaped from prison there while awaiting a prosecutor’s appeal of his second acquittal in the airline bombing.
[Released documents on Posada found here: http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB153/index.htm ]