[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1118 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE04138_d.html.]
GEORGE 04138 071401Z
INFO OCT-01 ARA-15 ISO-00 SCS-06 CA-01 H-02 SSO-00 FBIE-00 /028 W
——————050036 071409Z /47
O 071201Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8358
UNCLAS GEORGETOWN 4138
E.O. 12065: NA
TAGS: CASC, OREP (RYAN, LEO), GY
SUBJ: EMBASSY STAFFING
REF: STATE 307012
1. Embassy was very pleased that department was able to detail a member of the staff of the legal adviser to Georgetown on temporary assignment. He has already been of inestimable help in addressing the many legal problems created by the assassination of Congressman Ryan and the related incident of mass murders/suicides at Jonestown, many of which are unique in American consular experience.
2. As department is aware we have just now been able to identify and engage local legal counsel to assist in the discharge of our consular responsibilities vis-a-vis peoples temple and individuals’ estates. The FBI technical team is still proceeding in its examination of evidence, including that which has been gathered by the GOG [Government of Guyana] police, as well as the material removed from Georgetown by our consuls. So far this cooperation between the two governments is proceeding well. However, we have yet to reach even a preliminary understanding with the GOG regarding the disposition of peoples temple property in Guyana. (FYI: Ambassador is taking Mr. [Terry] Fortune to pay
PAGE 02 GEORGE 04138 071401Z
courtesy call on Minister Justice morning Dec. 7.)
3. Obviously, it is important that the department’s lawyer who has been detailed here is able to brief and direct the work, at least in its preliminary stages, of the local lawyer who has been retained. It is also very useful to have his advice on the embassy’s legal relationship with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other U.S. law enforcement agencies as it pertains to examination of evidence which may at the same time be part of the collective estate or individual estates created by the Jonestown disaster.
4. I believe it is important therefore that Mr. Fortune [name withheld by FBI] be available to us for at least another ten days, such time to include a brief trip to the department for the purpose of consulting with the rest of the legal staff as well as ARA and SCA.
5. It seems essential that as much care as possible be taken at this early critical stage in order to protect the department and the embassy from possible criticism in the future of the way in which our consular and related obligations have been discharged.
Burke [John Burke, U.S. Ambassador to Guyana]