EL PASO, Texas (AP) – Anti-Castro militant Luis Posada Carriles, an aging ex-CIA operative suspected in a decades-old airliner bombing, was released from U.S. custody Thursday pending his trial on immigration fraud charges.

Posada was released from a New Mexico jail after posting bond and was flying to his wife’s house in Miami on Thursday, said his lawyer, Felipe D.J. Millan.

He was required to post $250,000, and his wife, daughter and son were required to post $100,000 bond to secure his release.

U.S. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said Posada was required to report to pretrial services immediately upon his arrival in Miami. There, he will receive an electronic monitoring device.

Posada was accompanied by U.S. Marshals, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said.

The 79-year-old former CIA operative is awaiting a May 11 trial on allegations that he lied to immigration authorities while trying to become a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Earlier this week, an appeals court in New Orleans rejected the federal government’s bid to keep Posada jailed until his trial. The release order puts him under 24-hour house arrest and an electronic monitoring device.

Posada is wanted in his native Cuba and in Venezuela, where he is accused of plotting the 1976 bombing of a Cuban jetliner that killed 73 people.

A judge ruled that he couldn’t be deported to those countries because he might be tortured, and no other country has agreed to take him.

Attorneys for Venezuela have argued that under international law, if the United States decides not to return Posada to Venezuela, it should try him on the bombing charges.

Under the conditions of his release, Posada must try to find a country willing to take him, ICE officials said.

Posada has been jailed since March 2005, when he was caught in Miami and sent to El Paso to face immigration charges.

Cuban media has been filled in recent days with condemnations of Posada’s possible release, saying President Bush would be ultimately responsible if the anti-Castro fighter went free. In a written message last week, the Castro government accused the Bush administration of deciding “the liberation of the monster beforehand.”

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a Castro ally, on Thursday called Posada’s release proof of U.S. hypocrisy in its war on terror.

“They say they fight against terrorism, (but) there it is! Their mask keeps falling off,” Chavez said. “The U.S. empire will end up being a paper tiger, and we will be tigers of steel!”



Associated Press writers Alicia Caldwell in Monahans, Texas and Ian James in Caracas, Venezuela, contributed to this report.

AP-ES-04-19-07 1652EDT


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