June 1, 78 • Georgetown-State • 1767

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE01767_d.html.]

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ACTION SCS-06
INFO OCT-01 ARA-10 ISO-00 HA-05 PA-01 /023 W
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R 011700Z JUN 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6913
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C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (TEXT)

E.O. 11652: N/A
TAGS: CASC, GY
SUBJECT: US MEDIA TELEPHONE ENQUIRY REGARDING PEOPLE’S TEMPLE
REF: A. GEORGETOWN 1718, B. GEORGETOWN 1754

1. SHORTLY BEFORE THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS (1630 HOURS LOCAL) ON MAY 31 THE EMBASSY RECEPTIONIST RECEIVED A TELEPHONE CALL FROM THE UNITED STATES BY A PERSON WHO IDENTIFIED HIMSELF AS A MR. STEVE LITTLE OF CBS RADIO NEWS, SAN FRANCISCO, WHO ASKED TO SPEAK TO THE CONSUL. IN ACCORDANCE WITH STANDING EMBASSY INSTRUCTIONS FOR DEALING WITH MEDIA INQUIRIES, MR. LITTLE WAS REFERRED TO THE EMBASSY PUBLIC AFFAIRS OFFICER.

2. MR. LITTLE ASKED THE PAO FOR INFORMATION ABOUT THE OPBSATION OF THE PZBPLE’S TEMPLE IN GUYANA. THE PAO REPLIED THAT HE HAD NO FIRST HAND INFORMATION REGARDING THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE COMMUNITY WHICH IS LOCATED IN THE REMOTE NORTHWESTERN SECTION OF GUYANA. MR. LITTLE THANKED THE PAO, SAYING THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAD SUGGESTED HE CALL THE EMBASSY.

3. MR. LITTLE THEN, SHORTLY AFTER THE CLOSE OF BUSINESS, TELEPHONED THE EMBASSY ONCE MORE AND AGAIN ASKED FOR THE CONSUL. WHEN TOLD THAT THE CONSUL WAS NOT AVAILABLE,

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MR. LITTLE ASKED TO SPEAK TO THE AMBASSADOR. IN THE ABSENCE OF THE AMBASSADOR WHO WAS MEETING WITH THE ACTING FOREIGN MINISTER, DCM TOOK MR. LITTLE’S CALL.

4. MR. LITTLE INFORMED THE DCM THAT HE WISHED INFORMATION CONCERNING THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE’S OPERATIONS IN GUYANA. THE DCM SUGGESTED THAT HE SPEAK DIRECTLY WITH THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE OFFICE IN GEORGETOWN. MR. LITTLE THEN SAID THAT HE HAD SPOKEN WITH DEPARTMENT OF STATE BY TELEPHONE, THAT HE HAD BEEN TOLD THAT EMBASSY REPRESENATIVES HAD VISITED THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE COMMUNITY IN JONESTOWN ON THREE OCCASIONS, THAT HE WISHED TO KNOW WHAT THE SITUATION WAS THERE, AND THAT THIS WAS WHY HE WANTED TO SPEAK WITH THE CONSUL. DCM EXPLAINED TO MR. LITTLE THAT THE CONSULAR SECTION OF THE EMBASSY PROVIDED STANDARD CONSULAR SERVICES TO MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLE’S TEMPLE AS IT DID TO ALL AMERICANS IN GUYANA REQUIRING SUCH SERVICES. UNDER THE PRIVACY ACT, THE DCM CONTINUED, CONSULAR OFFICERS WERE CONSTRAINED FROM PROVIDING DETAILS OF ANY SUCH CONTACTS WITHOUT THE EXPRESS PERMISSION OF THOSE PRIVATE AMERICAN CITIZENS DIRECTLY CONCERNED. FURTHERMORE, HE EXPLAINED, ALL EMBASSY OFFICERS WERE PROHIBITED FROM REPORTING ON THE PERSONAL ACTIVITIES OF ANY PRIVATE AMERICAN CITIZEN ABROAD. THE TELEPHONE CONNECTION DURING THE COURSE OF THE CONVERSATION HAD BECOME INCREASINGLY BAD, AND THE DCM IS UNCERTAIN HOW MUCH OF THE CONVERSATION ID BECOME INDISTINCT FOLLOWING MR. LITTLE’S QUESTION “WHAT IS THE PRIVACY ACT?” MR. LITTLE SHORTLY THEREAFTER EITHER HUNG UP OR WAS DISCONNECTED.

BURKE

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Originally posted on February 12th, 2020.

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