[Both the State Department and FBI release of this cable withheld several names.]
UNCLASSIFIED FBB 011
[Listing of agencies receiving informational copies on pdf]
0 031740Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC FLASH 8318
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 8318
DEPT PASS: FBI HEW, USSS JFK IMMIGRATION AG CUSTOMS
E.O. 11652: NA
TAGS: CASC, GY (PEOPLE’S TEMPLE)
SUBJ: PAN AM CAPTAIN REFUSES TO BOARD 18 OF OUR SURVIVORS
REF: GEORGETOWN 4075; GEORGETOWN 4076; ELLICE/HALL TELCONS 12/3/78
1. Summary: The captain of Pan Am flight 228 has just refused to board 18 (male) members of our group of People’s Temple repatriation cases. The flight has taken off from New York with 11 women and children from our group. End summary.
2. Of the 32 potential travelers listed reftel, 3 indicated a desire to remain in Guyana and declined our offer of repatriation today. The three are: [names deleted] and Johnnie Mae Yates. For lack of anything else to do they rode to the airport on our chartered bus that was taking the 29 travelers to Timehri Airport.
3. Pan American was apparently expecting some sort of armed American guard escorting the travelers to New York and refused to board passengers without one. We quickly investigated the possibility of a Guyanese policeman: the captain appeared to be
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satisfied, the Commissioner of Police quickly gave his okay, and the Embassy coordinated all of this with the Guyana Working Group in Washington. Then, at last minute, the captain indicated that Pan Am, New Your [York] would not accept anything but an armed American.
4. The pilot took 11 women and children and departed without the 18 male members of the group. These 18 are presently writing back to Georgetown on the bus and will be quartered somewhere.
5. Department is requested to coordinate with Pan American, New York and ascertain whether a sky marshal should be dispatched to Georgetown. The next Pan Am flight to New York is not until Wednesday, although other flights on foreign flag carriers are a possibility.
Burke [John Burke, American ambassador to Guyana]