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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 September 2005, 05:09 GMT 06:09 UK
Cuba militant ends US asylum bid
Luis Posada Carriles before his arrest in Miami
Posada Carriles is fighting deportation to Venezuela
Cuban militant Luis Posada Carriles has withdrawn his application for asylum in the United States at a court hearing.

Accused of plotting to assassinate Fidel Castro, he faces possible deportation to Venezuela, where he is wanted over a 1976 plane bombing.

The former CIA operative says he faces torture if he is sent to Venezuela.

His lawyer says he will now seek to remain in the US on the basis of his US military service. Another court hearing is scheduled for 26 September.

Mr Posada Carriles alleged the Cuban leader tried to have him killed in 1990 because of his previous work for Venezuela as a security official.

The former CIA operative was arrested in Miami in May, and applied for asylum.

But he has now withdrawn his asylum plea, because he feared continued testimony in court might force him to reveal state secrets.

He will now apply for US citizenship, under a law applying to non-citizens who served honourably in the US military.

Mr Posada Carriles served for one year in the early 1960s.

Torture threat

The 77-year-old has been appearing before an immigration judge in El Paso, Texas, to face charges of entering the US illegally.

If the court finds against him, he risks being extradited to Venezuela.

Venezuela accuses Mr Posada Carriles of planning the bombing of the Cubana Airlines plane on a flight from Caracas to Havana in 1976, an attack which left 73 people dead.

A naturalised Venezuelan, he was twice acquitted by courts there of plotting to bomb the plane.

He escaped from a Venezuelan prison in 1985 while awaiting a trial on appeal.

He told the court he spent 15 of the years since his escape living on a military base in El Salvador and making frequent trips to Guatemala.

The exile said he had been issued passports and travel documents with different names by the governments of those countries.

"We had identification cards the government would give us. We could not use our names or the Communists would kill us," he said.

Earlier a Venezuelan lawyer, testifying on behalf of Mr Posada Carriles, said he would be tortured if he were extradited.

Joaquin Chaffardet said it was also very likely Caracas would send him to Cuba.

The Cuban government says Mr Posada Carriles was behind a series of bombings of hotels in Havana in 1997.

Fidel Castro has said that he should be tried in Venezuela, or in front of an international court.


SEE ALSO:
'Plane bomber' extradition sought
16 Jun 05 |  Americas
US rejects 'bomber' arrest plea
27 May 05 |  Americas
US accused of 'terror hypocrisy'
20 May 05 |  Americas
Cuban bomb suspect charged in US
19 May 05 |  Americas
Caracas 'to try bombing suspect'
18 May 05 |  Americas
Profile: Cuban 'plane bomber'
18 May 05 |  Americas


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