Nov 27, 78 • 1720 • Georgetown-State • 3961

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE03961_d.html.]

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GEORGE 03961 01 OF 02 271759Z
ACTION SS-25
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 SSO-00 CCO-00 /026 W
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Z 271720Z NOV 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC FLASH 8231
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 1 OF 2 GEORGETOWN 3961
EXDIS
FOR DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY BUSHNELL

E.O. 11652: GDS
TAGS: CASC OREP (RYAN) GY
SUBJECT: OFFER OF US ASSISTANCE TO GOG IN ITS CRIMINAL EXAMINATION OF EVIDENCE AND CRIMINAL INVESTIGATIONS RELATING TO THE DEATH OF CONGRESSMAN RYAN AND MASS MURDERS/SUICIDES AT JONESTOWN
REF: STATE 299097

1. AMBASSADOR MET WITH PRIME MINISTER BURNHAM AND MINISTER HAMILTON GREEN (CHAIRMAN OF GOG CABINET-LEVEL TASK FORCE FORMED TO DEAL WITH THE JONESTOWN TRAGEDY), AT 10:00 A.M. NOVEMBER 27 AT THE PRIME MINISTER’S COUNTRY RESIDENCE AT BELFIELD. THE PURPOSE OF THE MEETING WAS TO CONVEY TO THE PRIMIN THE U.S. GOVERNMENT’S OFFER OF ASSISTANCE IN THE EXAMINATION OF EVIDENCE AND THE INVESTIGATION OF THE ASSASSINATION OF CONGRESSMAN RYAN AND SUBSEQUENT EVENTS AT JONESTOWN. THE AMBASSADOR INFORMED THE PRIMIN THAT THE USG WAS PREPARED TO SEND TECHNICAL EXPERTS TO GEORGETOWN TO REVIEW EVIDENCE IN COPPERATION WITH THE GOG AUTHORITIES. THESE WOULD INCLUDE LEGAL EXPERTS AS WELL AS TECHNICAL EXPERTS TRAINED TO ANALYZE, COPY AND TO AUTHENTICATE RECORDS AND TAPES.

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2. THE PRIMIN LISTENED CAREFULLY TO THE PROPOSAL. HE SAID THAT HIS GOVERNMENT WAS STILL SENSITIVE TO THE IDEA OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE FBI BEING IN GUYANA AND ACTIVELY PURSUING AN INVESTIGATION. HE NOTED THAT SINCE THE JONESTOWN INCIDENT THE OPPOSITION HAD BEEN DEMANDING THAT A SPECIAL COMMISSION BE FORMED TO INVESTIGATE THE ENTIRE AFFAIR, INCLUDING GOVERNMENTAL DECISIONS WHICH HAD LED TO THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE COMMUNE. THEY WOULD BE QUICK TO CRITICIZE THE GOVERNMENT FOR PERMITTING AN FBI PRESENCE, BOTH BECAUSE THE FBI IS A PEJORATIVE CATCH-WORD IN CERTAIN CIRCULES AND BECAUSE ITS PRESENCE WOULD BE TAKEN AS EVIDENCE THAT THE GOG WAS NOT COMPETENT TO HANDLE THE INVESTIGATION ITSELF. IN RESPONSE TO THIS, THE AMBASSADOR SAID THAT SUCH EXPERTS AS THE USG WOULD BE PREPARED TO PROVIDE NEED NOT NECESSARILY BE DRAWN FROM THE FBI, BUT COULD BE PEOPLE DIRECTLY ATTACHED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE AND THE STAFF OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL. BURNHAM APPEARED TO TAKE CAREFUL NOT OF THIS POINT. HE ASKED IF IT WERE THE INTENTION THAT THESE SPECIALISTS WOULD UNDERTAKE A SEPARATE INVESTIGATION OF THEIR OWN WHILE IN GUYANA. THE AMBASSADOR REPLIED BY SAYING THAT IT WAS HIS UNDERSTANDING THAT THESE PERSONNEL WOULD BE PRIMARILY CONCERNED WITH REVIEWING EVIDENCE ALREADY IN THE CUSTODY OF THE GOG OR THE U.S. EMBASSY IN COOPERATION WITH THE GOVERNMENT’S OWN INVESTIGATIVE PEOPLE.

3. BURNHAM SAID THAT HE WAS AT SOMEWHAT OF A DISADVANTAGE IN DISCUSSING THE MATTER, EVEN IN A PRELIMINARY WAY, BECAUSE OF THE ABSENCE OF HIS MINISTER OF JUSTICE/ ATTORNEY GENERAL MOHAMED SHAHABUDDEEN WHO WAS TRYING A CASE BEFORE THE SUPREME COURT THIS MORNING. NEVER-

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THELESS, HE SEEMED TO UNDERSTAND THE LOGIC OF THE PROPOSAL AND THE POSSIBLE ADVANTAGES FORM THE GOG SIDE. HE SAID HE WOULD HAVE TO RAISE IT IN CABINET WHICH MEETS TOMORROW, AND THAT HE WOULD BE BACK IN TOUCH WITH THE AMBASSADOR AS SOON AS A DECISION HAD BEEN TAKEN.

4. BECAUSE BURNHAM SEEMED PREPARED TO GIVE SERIOUS CONSIDERATION TO THE BASIC PROPOSAL OF HAVING USG PERSONNEL COME TO GUYANA TO ASSIST GOG IN ITS REVIEW OF EVIDENCE, THE AMBASSADOR DID NOT AT THIS STAGE, RAISE THE ALTERNATIVE OF SHIPPING EVIDENCE TO THE U.S. FOR EXAMINATION. NEITHER DID THE PRIMIN MAKE ANY DEMANDS FOR THE TURNOVER TO THE GOG OF THE MATERIAL WHICH HAD BEEN COLLECTED BY CONSULAR OFFICERS LAST WEEK IN EXERCISING THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO TAKE CHARGE OF ESTATES.

5. THE MEETING WITH THE PRIME MINISTER LASTED APPROXIMATELY ONE HOUR AND FIFTEEN MINUTES AND MANY ASPECTS RELATED TO THE ASSASSINATION OF CONGRESSMAN RYAN AND THE JONESTOWN EPISODE WERE DISCUSSED, INCLUDING THE FOLLOWING:

A. THE PRIMIN CONFIRMED THAT THE GOG HAD SEIZED A LARGE AMOUNT OF CURRENCY SUBSEQUENT TO THE INCIDENT AT JONESTOWN. THE CURRENCY HAD BEEN IN THE POSSESSION OF “TWO MEMBERS OF THE PEOPLES TEMPLE” AND WAS BEING CARRIED IN AN ATTACHE CASE, ACCORDING TO BURNHAM. IT AMOUNTED TO $500,000 IN U.S. CURRENCY AND $250,000 IN GUYANESE CURRENCY. THESE FUNDS HAVE BEEN DEPOSITED WITH THE SOLICITOR OF GUYANA WHO, BURNHAM EXPLAINED, IS THE CUSTODIAN OF ASSETS SEIZED IN CONNECTION WITH A CRIME OR THE DEATH INTESTATE OF AN INDIVIDUAL.

B. THE GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA IS SEALING OFF JONESTOWN TO OUTSIDERS AFTER A PRESS PARTY IS PERMITTED CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 04 GEORGE 03961 01 OF 02 271759Z TO TOUR THE AREA TODAY. THIS IS BEING DONE IN AN EFFORT TO PRESERVE THE COMMUNITY FORM ANY FURTHER PILFERAGE.

C. BURNHAM SAID THAT HE HIMSELF HAD NEVER VISITED JONESTOWN, AND THAT HE HAD BEEN INTRODUCED TO JIM JONES WHEN HE FIRST CAME TO GUYANA BY LT. GOV. DYMALLY OF CALIFORNIA. D. THE GOG INTENDS TO
TRY INDIVIDUALS SUSPECTED OF

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Z 271720Z NOV 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC FLASH 8232 C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 2 OF 2 GEORGETOWN 3961
EXDIS

INVOLVEMENT IN THE ASSASSINATION OF CONGRESSMAN RYAN AND THE INCIDENT AT JONESTOWN, IN ITS OWN COURTS, AND INTENDS TO SEEK THE DEATH PENALTY FOR ANY FOUND QUILTY OF FIRST DEGREE MURDER. BURNHAM OBSERVED THAT THE LAST HANGING IN GUYANA TOOK PLACE SEVEN YEARS AGO.

E. BURNHAM CONFIRMED THAT HE HAD TOLD REPORTERS THAT CUBAN AND RUSSIAN DIPLOMATS HAD VISITED JONESTOWN. HE PROFESSED NOT TO KNOW WHAT BUSINESS PERSONNEL OF THESE EMBASSIES MIGHT HAVE HAD WITH THE COMMUNITY.

F. REGARDING THE EXACT TERMS UNDER WHICH THE PEOPLES TEMPLE CAME INTO GUYANA, BURNHAM “THINKS” THAT IT WAS ESTABLISHED AS A COOPERATIVE AND THAT THE LAND WAS CEDED FOR A SPECIFIC PERIOD OF TIME, PROBABLY 25 YEARS, OR POSSIBLY LONGER. MINISTER GREEN WAS EQUALLY VAGUE AS TO THE TERMS UNDER WHICH PEOPLES TEMPLE HAD BEEN ADMITTED TO THE COUNTRY.

G. BURNHAM EXPRESSED IRRITATION THAT THE ATTORNEYS MARK LANE AND CHARLES GARRY HAD BEEN PERMITTED TO LEAVE GUYANA IN THE CONFUSION OF THE FIRST DAYS AFTER THE JONESTOWN INCIDENT. HE CONSIDERS THEM MATERIAL WITNESSES. BURNHAM SAID THAT IT WAS HIS UNDERSTANDING THAT LANE WAS TAKEN OUT ON ONE OF THE SPECIAL

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U.S. MEDIA CHARTER JETS WHICH WERE IN GUYANA LAST WEEK.

6. COMMENT: PRIMIN BURNHAM APPEARED TO TAKE THE OFFER OF ASSISTANCE IN THE SPIRIT IN WHICH IT WAS GIVEN. BEING A SHREWD LAWYER HIMSELF, HE DID NOT TAKE ISSUE WITH THE AMBASSADOR’S ITERATION OF THE CONSUL’S RESPONSIBILITY TO TAKE CHARGE OF THE PERSONAL EFFECTS OF DECEASED AMERICANS. HOWEVER, BY MAKING MENTION OF THE FACT THAT HIS MINISTER OF JUSTICE/ATTORNEY GENERAL SHAHABUDDEEN WAS NOT AVAILABLE TO HIM, HE UNDOUBTEDLY WAS LEAVING THE DOOR OPEN IF HE WANTED TO COME BACK TO THIS POINT AT A LATER TIME. THE AMBASSADOR WILL BE AWAITING THE PRIMIN’S CALL FOLLOWING THE CABINET MEETING ON TUESDAY.

BURKE

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Originally posted on March 16th, 2020.

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