Serial 2426

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 2426 of the FBI’s RYMUR release.]

UNCLASSIFIED FBB 660

[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on pdf]

0 R 311035Z MAR 80
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2024
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 1436
BOGOTA FOR LEGAT
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CARR, GY (LAYTON, LURENCE JOHN) (PEOPLE’S TEMPLE)
SUBJ: CONOFF’S VISIT TO LARRY LAYTON
REF: A) 78 GEORGETOWN 2605
B) GEORGETOWN 0075
C) GEORGETOWN 0760

1. Conoff [Consular Officer] visited Amcit [American citizen] Laurence Layton in Georgetown prison March 20, 1980, and delivered a letter from Dr. L. L. Layton received c/o Embassy March 24, 1980. As on previous visits, letter was held by prison authorities for censorship prior to delivery (Reftel A). Layton again affirmed that he receives mail on a regular basis.

2. Interview was conducted in the office of prison superintendent [name withheld] who was present for the first few minutes. On Connoff’s request, and as per previous GOG [Government of Guyana] authorization following Embassy intervention (Ref. B), Supt. [name withheld] left the room for purpose of allowing private consular meeting with Mr. Layton. Meeting was third such with Mr. Layton outside presence of prison officials since his detention.

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3. Conoff asked Layton privately whether he was being subject to any deliberate physical or psychological abuse. Layton stated that he was not subject to any such abuse, and Conoff detected no indications thereof. Conoff found Layton’s general physical condition and appearance markedly improved since visit of February 1, 1980. Layton had gained weight, and in response to Conoff’s question expressed satisfaction with his Embassy arranged dietary assistance plan. He had no new medical complaints, and stated that he was continuing to receive two outside exercise periods per week as per previous Embassy request.

4. Conoff request to contact local attorney Rex McKay, who had yet to visit Layton as of March 26, 1980. Conoff Conoff telephoned McKay’s office March 27, 1980, and left a message to the effect that Layton wished to see McKay.

5. Late this morning, Friday, March 28, 1980, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) notified consul that trial would not rpt not begin April 1, 1980. Layton’s attorney, Mr. Rex McKay, was asking for a postponement because of the presence of other business that would require his presence in Washington, DC in early April. (N.B. Mr. McKay is a member of a team of arbitrators currently attempting to resolve a number of lawsuits resulting from a USAID-contracted rice silo construction project.

6. We do not know [eligible word], as past events have proven, it would be dangerous for us to try to guess, when Layton might come to trial. Consul has discussed case this morning with defense attorney McKay and it is not at all clear when legal

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proceedings might resume.

7. For ARA/CAR: Further to our telephone conversation 3/28 A.M., please pass substance paras 5 through end to Department of Justice as specifically to the FBI, San Francisco office.

Roberts [George B. Roberts, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]

Originally posted on November 12th, 2020.

Last modified on July 20th, 2022.
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