MIAMI (AP) – Under growing international pressure, U.S. authorities Tuesday seized a Cuban exile accused by Fidel Castro’s government of masterminding a 1976 airliner bombing that killed 73 people. He had been seeking asylum in the United States.

Luis Posada Carriles, a 77-year-old former CIA operative and Venezuelan security official, was taken into custody by U.S. immigration authorities, the Homeland Security Department said in a statement.

The department did not say what it planned to do with Posada, who is wanted by Venezuela and Cuba. But it said that generally, the U.S. government does not return people to Cuba or to countries acting on Cuba’s behalf. The department said it has 48 hours to determine his immigration status.

Posada escaped from prison in Venezuela in 1985 while awaiting a prosecutor’s appeal of his second acquittal in the bombing of a Cuban jetliner near Barbados. His whereabouts had been unknown until he surfaced in Miami in March and sent word that he was seeking asylum.

The request brought protests from Cuba and put the United States in an awkward position, given the war against terror.

Earlier Tuesday, before he was taken into custody, Posada told reporters he was willing to abandon his asylum request and leave the United States for another country.

“If my petition for political asylum created any problem to the government of the United States, I am ready to reconsider my petition,” he said. “My only objective is to fight for the freedom of my country.”


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.