(Editor’s note: This is a cable from the files of the State Department 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.)
CONFIDENTIAL FBB 522
[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on pdf]
R 071022Z MAR 81
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
CONFIDENTIAL STATE 058256
E.O. 12065: GDS, 3/6/87 (KOZAK, MICHAEL G.)
TAGS: PGOV, GY
SUBJ: PEOPLE’S TEMPLE LITIGATION
REFS: (A) STATE 52271, (B) AIR TAIPEI 1042
QM [1.] Entire text (C) [confidential]
2. Two questions have arisen in context of USG [United States Government] litigation against People’s Temple to recover costs of repatriating remains which require consultation with GOG [Government in Guyana].
3. First, presence of FBI in Guyana after the tragedy to assist in investigation was widely reported in press. As we recall, both USG and GOG acknowledged FBI agents were in Guyana to cooperate with the Guyanese law enforcement officials. Dept. has been unable to document as yet, however, whether FBI presence was in fact officially con-
PAGE 02 STATE 058256
firmed. In context of litigation, we believe it inevitable that proof of FBI presence will come out – either in witnesses statements, need to produce FBI-originated documents, or need to trace custody of evidence to its origin through FBI hands. Given public knowledge that FBI was in Guyana (and perhaps more, if official confirmation was given in 1978-79 despite our inability to document it), dept. does not believe such revelations will have significant impact in Guyana. Obviously, however, we wish to consult in advance. Embassy is therefore requested to notify GOG that in context of this litigation we believe it inevitable that this information will come out. We will emphasize that our agents were there strictly in accordance with cooperative arrangements reached with GOG, and worked in coordination with GOG law enforcement officials.
PAGE 03 STATE 058256
4. Secondly, as described reftels, dept. is in possession of two-page legal length documents edited “Alien Registration” (as in the understand it, immigration records for permanent resident status in Guyana which may be known as FCWED) for nearly all of Jonestown victims, due to cooperation of then head of Police Special Branch. These documents may not have been provided with knowledge or consent of GOG. As former head of Special Branch has since fled Guyana, dept. believes GOG can be made aware of fact we possess these documents. Again, it is unlikely we will be able to completely protect these documents during upcoming litigation; moreover they are helpful to USG case and we would like to use them if possible.
5. Embassy is requested to contact GOG to inform them that we possess copies of these immigration documents and that they are likely to come to light during trial, although we consider it unlikely they will become significant item of press interest. If GOG does not appear to be concerned we will probably use documents publicly. If GOG reaction is severe, In the seat may assure GOG that USG will do its best to prevent public disclosure of documents, but that we can make no guarantees in our efforts to prevent disclosure could unnecessarily call attention to entire issue. Embassy might explore potentially more effective means of minimizing embarrassment to GOG. For example, you might suggest that GOG give us fresh copies of documents now. If documents come to light, clear, aboveboard, defensible decision to cooperate with USG can be pointed to and considered perfectly natural. If GOG is attracted to this approach, Embassy should encourage them to give USG certified copies, which would help prevent evidentiary problems at trial.
Stoessel [Walter J. Stoessel, Jr., State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs]