May 23, 1980 • 1830 • Georgetown-State • 2406

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 2448 of the FBI’s RYMUR release.

[The State Department release withheld the second half this cable, but it was included in the RYMUR release. The originally-deleted portions are denoted below in red type.]

P 231830Z MAY 80
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2556
INFO AMEMBASSY BOGOTA PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY CARACAS PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY KINGSTOWN PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY PARAMARIBO PRIORITY
AMEMBASSY PORT OF SPAIN PRIORITY
CONFIDENTIAL GEORGETOWN 2406
BOGOTA FOR LEGATT
E.O. 12065: GDS 5/23/86 (DWYER, RICHARD A.)
TAGS: CARR, GY (LAYTON, LAWRENCE)
SUBJECT: USG INTEREST IN LAWRENCE LAYTON
REF: GEORGETOWN 2393 (NOTAL)

1. The referenced telegram reported that an American citizen Lawrence Layton was acquitted on May 22 in Georgetown of the attempted murders of Vernon Gosney and Monica Bagby at the Port Kaituma airstrip on November 18, 1978. Layton, a member of the People’s Temple group from Jonestown, remains charged with the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan and four others on the same date. The Government of Guyana (GOG) must now decide whether to proceed with the remaining charges against Layton or to dismiss them leaving Layton a free man.
According to the media, the GOG’s decision is expected promptly.

CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL
PAGE 02 GEORGE 02406 061905Z

2. Embassy Georgetown anticipates that the remaining charges against Layton will be dismissed. In the lay opinion of the Embassy, the charges of which Layton was acquitted were based on evidence more solid than that likely to be available for the murder charges.

3. The Embassy has requested that the GOG inform it immediately as soon as a decision is taken regarding the remaining charges against Layton. If the charges are dismissed, Layton of course will be freed promptly. Layton would then be free to stay in Guyana unless the GOG decided to cancel his resident status and visa. The GOG could thus require his departure or would deport him. In the former case, Layton presumably would have a choice regarding his destination (although we suspect that he would be unwelcome in a number of neighboring countries), while in the latter case the GOG might take the decision for him. A UPI reporter who has covered the trial and who interviewed Layton after he was acquitted informed an Embassy officer that Layton expressed a wish to return to the United States and his family. (Layton’s passport, incidentally, remains in the possession of our consular section for the [word cut off]

4. Action requested: Embassy Georgetown would appreciate being informed should there be any further specifics which the Department or other USA agencies might [word cut off] concerning Mr. Layton.

Roberts [George B. Roberts, Jr., American ambassador to Guyana]

Originally posted on June 16th, 2022.

Last modified on July 20th, 2022.
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