But Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerome Sanford said that actually the State Department, on behalf of the Guatemalan government, was requesting Zimeri's return to the Central American country to stand trail on the charge that the killed a Guatemalan naval officer in 1976.

Government officials and Zimeri's attorneys have been fighting over his fate for the last week now. On the one hand, federal prosecutors have tried unsuccessfully to get Zimeri to testify to a grand jury here about "organized crime assassinations." Meanwhile, Zimeri's attorneys mave tried to get him freed on bail pending outcome of the extradition proceeding.

Zimeri, a 34-year-old textile manufacturer, has said the 1976 Guatemalan murder charge is trumped up and designed only to secure his return to his homeland so that government agents can execute him for his political opposition to the current military regime.

After Wilson refused to name publicly the State Department official who authorized his testimony, the already bizarre case took an even stranger twist. Prosecutor Sanford asked Wilson to write the name of the State Department official on a piece of paper and give it to Palermo so that it would remain secret from the public.

Wilson did so and Sandford said he would check the supposed authorization of the person.