An anti-Castro militant accused of illegally entering the country withdrew his request for U.S. asylum Wednesday, and his attorneys said they will focus instead on trying to prevent his deportation to Venezuela.
Luis Posada Carriles says he will be mistreated if he is returned to Venezuela to face charges that he plotted the deadly 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner while he was in Caracas.
Attorneys for the United States and Posada have agreed that he should not be deported to Cuba. The Cuban government has said it will not seek Posada's return but does support Venezuela's extradition request.
Immigration Judge William L. Abbott has designated Venezuela, where Posada is a naturalized citizen, as the country where he should be sent.
Lawyers for the U.S. government have said they need more information before deciding whether they would oppose that decision. A hearing on the issue is scheduled for Sept. 26.
Matthew Archambeault, one of Posada's Florida-based attorneys, has repeatedly cited international conventions against torture in his requests to keep Posada in the United States.
Gina Garrett-Jackson, lead attorney for the government, acknowledged that the Department of Homeland Security had "serious concerns" about Posada's claim that he would face torture in Venezuela. She did not elaborate.
The Venezuelan government has not commented publicly on Posada's torture claims.
Archambeault told the judge that Posada, a onetime CIA operative, decided to withdraw his asylum request to avoid embarrassing the U.S. government.
Explanations to questions posed to Posada by government lawyers Tuesday "may step in areas sensitive to the U.S. government and other . . . governments," Archambeault said.
His attorney also told the judge that Posada would ask to have any order sending him to Venezuela deferred. That would allow him to stay in the United States, without any specific legal status, while the government finds another country to send him to or conditions in Venezuela change.
The judge said that he would be amenable to granting a request to defer extradition, but a final decision is not expected until at least the September hearing.