Serial 2223
June 13, 1979 • 1910 • Georgetown–State • 2663

[Editor’s note: This is a State Department cable that was included in the FBI’s 2009 RYMUR release of documents under the Freedom of Information Act. It was not included in the State Department’s own release, but we have included identifying information for it using the agency’s designations.]

UNCLASSIFIED FBB 220

[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on pdf]

0 131910Z JUN 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9885
LIMITED OFFICE USE GEORGETOWN 2663
ATTN: L/ARA – MR. TERRY FORTUNE
DEPT PASS JUSTICE, ATTN: MICHAEL ABELL
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CARR, GY (LAURENCE JOHN LAYTON) (PEOPLES TEMPLE)
SUBJ: WELFARE/WHEREABOUTS (LARRY LAYTON)
REF: GEORGETOWN 2023.

1. During regular consular visitation on June 12, Vice Consul was informed by prison official that Amcit [American citizen] Larry Layton, being held in conjunction with the shooting of Congressman Ryan at Port Kaituma November 18 “would be released in a few days.” Press for further details official said that he had none and had merely heard from his superiors that Layton’s release was imminent.

2. Subsequently Consul called Director of Public Prosecution Emmauel Ramao and asked him about the status of the Layton case. Ramao said that he had received a telephone call some days ago from “the US Attorney in San Francisco” who had discussed with him the possibility that charges against Layton in Guyana might be dropped, on the understanding that Layton,

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after his release, would be placed aboard an aircraft bound for the US where, presumably, Layton would then be taken into custody by US officials. Ramao informed the Consul that he had informed the US Attorney that this matter had political connotations with which he was unqualified to deal. He suggested that the US Attorney call the Minister of Justice to discuss the matter. Ramao claims that he has heard nothing since that conversation. Separately, a member of the team of Guyanese lawyers defending Layton has expressed the view to a mission officer that the case in Guyana against Layton would probably be dropped.

3. Embassy would appreciate if Department [of State] and Department of Justice would look into this matter and see where it stands. As of now the Embassy has not been officially informed of any contacts between the US Attorney in San Francisco and Guyanese officials except by DPP Ramao. As Embassy as pointed out in ref cable, the GOG would in all likelihood prefer to pass the prosecution of the Layton case over to some American authority. Trial here will be costly and time-consuming for the GOG including as it does the necessity of bringing back from the US People’s Temple survivors to testify before Guyanese courts. Thus, if GOG were to be presented with the possibility that a US court is prepared to accept jurisdiction, there is a real likelihood that the Guyanese judicial system would be tempted to drop charges against Layton and release him. It should be pointed out, however, that any “informal” arrangement transferring jurisdiction in this matter from Guyana to a US court in the absence of formal extradition carries with it no

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absolute guarantee that Layton would travel directly back to the US. There are no nonstop flights between Georgetown and an American port of entry.

Burke [John Burke, American ambassador to Guyana]

Originally posted on November 8th, 2020.

Last modified on July 18th, 2022.
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