Serial 1652

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1652 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The full text of this text was taken from https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1979GEORGE00179_e.html.

[The FBI deleted the name of U.S. Ambassador John Burke at the head of this serial. The name has been indicated by red type.]

CONFIDENTIAL FBB 047
PAGE 01 GEORGE 00179 121918Z
ACTION ARA-15
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 SCS-06 CA-01 SSO-00 FBIE-00 L-03 H-01 JUSE-00 /027 W
——————033291 121944Z /47

O 121844Z JAN 79
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8717
C O N F I D EN T I A L GEORGETOWN 0179
E.O. 12065: RDS 1/12/85 (BURKE, JOHN R.) OR-M
TAGS: CASC, GY (PEOPLE’S TEMPLE)
SUBJ: FBI INVESTIGATION IN GUYANA: DISPOSITION OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE PROPERTY IN GUYANA

1. Ambassador and Mr. Fortune of legal advisor’s office called on GOG [Government of Guyana] Foreign Minister Rashleigh Jackson this morning. After introducing Mr. Fortune, Ambassador indicated that he wished to raise certain issues related to the events at Jonestown and their aftermath. Formin [Foreign Minister] expressed willingness to discuss these issues, but informed ambassador that meeting among concerned GOG ministeries scheduled for Monday, January 8 (reftel para 2 (d)) had been postponed and tentatively rescheduled for this afternoon. Formin regretted that as a result of this postponement, GOG had yet to take decisions on several substantive issues.

2. Ambassador then repeated USG [U.S. Government] desire to remove evidentiary material in the possession of the Guyanese police to the U.S. temporarily. Formin stated that this question would be taken up at meeting scheduled for this afternoon.

3. Ambassador next raised the issue of possible interviews between Legatt [Robert] Oglesby and survivors of the People’s Temple who are still in Guyana and are not under police custody. Ambassador emphasized the importance of such interviews and

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noted that they would be voluntary contacts between US citizens and a representative of their government. Formin responded that he personally saw no reason for objecting to such interviews, but that he wished to check with the minister of justice before responding formally. Formin phoned ambassador several hours after the meeting and stated that GOG had no objection to such interviews.

4. Discussion then turned to the general question of the preservation and disposition of people’s temple property in Guyana. Formin indicated that this issue would be discussed at the meeting later today. At the request of the ambassador, Formin arranged an appointment for Mr. Fortune with the Solicitor General on Monday morning, January 15 (the first time at which the Solictor [Solicitor] General was available) so that Mr. Fortune could explore in detail legal issues related to the disposition of temple property.

5. At his request, Formin was briefed on status of congressional investigation of Jonestown tragedy. In the course of this discussion, high level of congressional interest in recoupment of USG expenses was stressed, and intention of USG to take all available measures to pursue claims it may have against Temple assets in Guyana was reiterated.

Burke [John Burke, American ambassador to Guyana]

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Originally posted on May 3rd, 2018.

Last modified on July 15th, 2022.
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