[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 824 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978STATE305662_d.html.]
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 L-03 FBIE-00 SS-15 INR-10 SY-05 SCS-06 CA-01 /056 R
DRAFTED BY ARA:EO’DONNELL:JE
APPROVED BY ARA:JABUSHNELL
——————008704 041752Z /43
R 031959Z DEC 78
FM SECSTATE WASHDC
TO JOS FREITAS JUNIOR DIST ATT DAO 880 BRYANT,
ST SAN FRANCISCO CALIFORNIA 94103
INFO FBI WASHDC 0061
SAC CHAS R MCKINNON FBI 450 GOLDEN FATE AVE,
SAN FRANCISCO 94102
UNCLAS STATE 305662
E.O. 11652: N/A
TAGS: CASC, OREP (RYAN, LEO), GY
SUBJECT: POSSIBLE CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION OF PEOPLE’S TEMPLE GROUP
REF: YOUR TELEGRAM DATED 29 NOVEMBER 1978
1. Secretary [Cyrus] Vance asked that I respond to your telegram. On behalf of the secretary and the entire department of state, please accept our deepest sympathy and condolences on the tragic deaths of Mayor [George] Moscone and San Francisco Supervisor [Harvey] Milk.
2. We understand your interest in interviewing survivors of the People’s Temple tragedy in pursuing your investigation into possible California criminal law violations by present and former People’s Temple members. However, the government of Guyana is permitting the departure of survivors only as it determines that the presence of particular individuals in Guyana is no longer necessary to that government’s ongoing investigation of the affair. As you may know, one elderly survivor arrived in the U.S. on November 26 and seven more arrived in t;e [the] U.S. on November 29. At present, we anticipate ;hat permission for departure will most likely continue to be given in sporadic fashion as dictated by the Guyanese government’s investigation requirements. In any event it would not be proper for the U.S. government to attempt to place restrictions on the departure of U.S. citizens from foreign countries.
3. While there is no legal requirement for U.S. citizen survivors to return to the U.S., we believe that most survivors will return to the U.S. We are coordinating closely with the federal bureau of investigation on the arrival of survivors and we understand that the FBI has interviewed survivors upon their return and will continue to do so.
4. We note that your cable also went to FBI Director [William] Webster and Roy McKinnon, Special Agent in Charge, San Francisco. We learned from our meeting with your associates that you are already coordinating with the FBI in this matter. We are sending copies of this message to Director Webster and SAC McKinnon in the hope that this will facilitate your continued coordination.
5. Signed: John A. Bushnell, Director, Guyana Working Group, Department of State.
Vance [Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State]