[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1345 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE321268_d.html.]
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 ARA-15 PA-02 SY-05 FBIE-00 L-03
H-02 CIAE-00 INR-10 NSAE-00 /044 R
DRAFTED BY CA:SCS:MACELLA:SJD
APPROVED BY CA:SCS:JLWARD
——————098324 212002Z /53
O 211950Z DEC 78
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN IMMEDIATE
UNCLAS STATE 321268
SUBJECT: WASHINGTON POST NEWS ITEM
REF: ELLIS/CELLA TELCON DEC. 21, 1978
The following news item appeared in the Washington Post of Thursday, Dec. 21, 1978. It is bylined by Gregory Rose, special to the Washington Post, and headlined “Cult Defectors Trying To Leave Guyana Criticize U.S.”
Qte: Georgetown, Guyana, Dec. 20 – More than a month after escaping death at Jonestown, 12 American defectors from the Peoples Temple cult are still trying to leave Guyana and are blaming the U.S. embassy here for their plight.
Dale Parks, who had assumed leadership of the defectors, many of whom are his relatives, told reporters yesterday that “we were lied to on a daily basis” by U.S. consular officers at the embassy.
PAGE 02 STATE 321268
The 12 Jonestown defectors, who include several teenaged children, had left the jungle compound Nov. 18 with Rep. Leo J. Ryan (D. Calif.) and survived the air strip ambush in which Ryan, Parks’ mother, Patricia, and three newsmen were killed. More than 900 other Jonestown residents died later that night in the mass poisoning directed by cult leader Jim Jones.
According to Parks, the defectors have been trying for three weeks to arrange through the embassy for transportation out of Guyana. The defectors are not under investigation by Guyanese authorities and are not among those Jonestown survivors identified by Peoples Temple members and defectors in the United sStates as being potentially dangerous loyal followers of Jones.
Nevertheless, according to Parks, the U.S. consular officials told them at one point that the embassy could not give them their passports because they had not been cleared for release by Guyanese officials. Only after he took a Guyanese lawyer with him to the embassy to complain, Parks said, did the consular officer provide the passports and necessary travel documents. “We had to take a Guyanese lawyer into the embassy,” Parks said, “to get our U.S. civil rights.”
During the past week, Parks said the defectors were told by the embassy, which must provide their air fare home under a government program for that purpose, that there was no room for them on U.S. bound
PAGE 03 STATE 321268
flights. Newsmen and others have had no difficulty obtaining airline bookings on short notice.
Parks said the defectors also were told by the embassy that Pan American airlines would not allow them on its flights to New York without an accompanying U.S. Marshal, but Pan American officials in New York said they had no objection to carrying the defectors without a security escort.
Today, the defectors were told by the embassy they would be flown to New York on a Pan Am flight with a U.S. Marshal and two Peoples Temple members from the cult’s Georgetown headquarters house whom the defectors fear.
Parks said he told one consular official that his group did not want to travel on the same plane with people they feared might pose a danger to them. “She replied,” Parks said, “that they have been released to go. If they wish to go on the earlier flight, they have the same rights you have.”
“On every occasion,” said Jim Bogue, another of the defectors, the U.S. consular officials “let us know what they couldn’t do for us, not what they could. I thought a public servant was supposed to help people.”
The consular officials who have barred reporters from their meetings with the defectors, were not available for comment. End qte.
Christopher [Acting Secretary of State Warren Christopher]