The Washington Post
Wednesday, September 13, 2006; 6:45 PM
HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuba accused the United States of double standards on Wednesday after a judge recommended releasing a Cuban exile accused of the 1976 bombing of an airliner in the same week it mourned the September 11 attacks.
A U.S. magistrate on Monday said exile Luis Posada Carriles, 79, must be freed because the government was unable to find, within the time allowed, a country willing to give him asylum if he were deported.
The naturalized Venezuelan and former CIA operative is held on immigration charges for illegally entering the United States. He is also accused by Venezuela and Cuba of violent acts against Fidel Castro's government, including a 1976 airliner bombing that killed 73 people.
"Attacking the Twin Towers of New York or destroying a civilian plane such as the Cuban airliner in 1976 are without any doubt acts of terrorism," Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba's National Assembly, told reporters.
"What is unacceptable is that on the same day that Americans were crying and remembering the terrible crime committed in New York on Sept 11 five years ago, they were ... announcing the freeing of Luis Posada Carriles," he said.
At a separate summit meeting, Cuban Vice President Carlos Lage termed the United States a "world dictatorship" bent on imposing its will through war and economic power.
Posada, who denies involvement in the bombing, has been a political hot potato for the administration of President Bush because of his history of violent acts to sabotage Castro's government.
Caracas and Havana charge that Posada masterminded the attack on a Cuban airliner as it took off from Barbados and view him as a terrorist.
The two countries are ideological allies and accuse the United States of using double standards in its treatment of Posada, given Washington's declared war on terrorism.
The case has tested already tense relations between the United States and Venezuela, the world's No. 5 oil exporter and a top supplier to the U.S. market.
The magistrate's recommendation now goes to a district judge for a final decision on an exile detained since 2005 for illegally crossing the border into Texas from Mexico.