Dec 8, 78 • 1955 • Georgetown-State • 4170

[Editor’s note: This text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE04170_d.html.]

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ACTION ARA-10
INFO OCT-01 ISO-00 SS-14 SSO-00 INR-05 INRE-00 CIAE-00 PA-01 L-01 NSCE-00 SY-02 SCS-01 CA-01 /036 W ——————069704 082030Z /50

O 081955Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC NIACT IMMEDIATE 8383
C O N F I D E N T I A L GEORGETOWN 4170
LIMDIS FOR ARA DEP ASST SEC JOHN BUSHNELL

E.O. 12065: GDS 12/8/1984 (BURKE, JOHN R.) OR-M
TAGS: CASC, OREP (RYAN, L)
SUBJ: NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE ON JONESTOWN TAPE

1. EMBASSY UNDERSTANDS THAT NEW YORK TIME FOR DEC. 8 IS CARRYING STORY DATELINED GEORGETOWN BY JOSEPH TREASTER WHICH CONTENDS THAT TAPE RECORDING OF THE LAST HOURS OF JONESTOWN WAS RECOVERED AND IS IN THE POSSESSION OF THE AUTHORITIES. AS YET THE EMBASSY HAS NOT SEEN THE FULL TEXT OF THE NEW YORK ARTICLE. HOWEVER, IT IS OUR UNDERSTANDING THAT THE TIMES CREDITS ITS INFORMATION TO AMERICAN SOURCES. THE NUMBER OF PEOPLE IN THE MISSION WHO HAVE ACTUALLY HEARD THE TAPE IS SMALL AND IN FACT THE TAPE ITSELF, AFTER ITS CONTENT WAS VERIFIED ON THE DAY OF ITS DISCOVERY (NO. 24) WAS SEALED IN AN ENVELOPE AND KEPT IN A SAFE UNTIL THE EMBASSY OBTAINED FROM THE DEPARTMENT PERMISSION TO MAKE IT AVAILABLE TO THE FBI TEAM PRESENTLY IN GUYANA FOR COPYING. AS DEPARTMENT IS AWARE FROM REFTEL, TAPE WAS PLAYED ON MONDAY DEC. 4 IN THE PRESENCE OF AMBASSADOR, DCM, T. FORTUNE, LEGAL ATTACHE ROBERT OGLESBY, EMBASSY CARACAS, AND THE SOUND TECHNICIAN MEMBER OF THE FBI TEAM. ORIGINAL WAS THEN GIVEN TO LEGAL ATTACHE OGLESBY

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AND HIS TEAM PROCEEDED TO MAKE TWO COPIES, ONE OF WHICH WAS CONVEYED TO POLICE COMMISSIONER BARKER ON DEC. 5, AND THE OTHER WAS HANDCARRIED TO WASHINGTON ON DEC 6.

2. AMERICAN PERSONNEL WITH A KNOWLEDGE OF THE TAPE HAVE BEEN QUESTIONED AND EACH DENIES HAVING SPOKEN TO ANY CORRESPONDENT REGARDING THE TAPE’S EXISTENCE.

3. GIVEN THE INTENSITY OF COMPETITION AMONG THE MEMBERS OF THE FOREIGN PRESS CORPS HERE IN GEORGETOWN SINCE THE JONESTOWN STORY BROKE, SOME OF THE ETHICAL STANDARDS WHICH MIGHT WELL GOVERN THE CONDUCT OF THESE GENTLEMEN IN NORMAL TIMES APPEAR OCCASIONALLY TO HAVE SLIPPED. ONE MUST THEREFORE BE VERY CAREFUL IN ACCEPTING AS FACT EVERY STATEMENT, PARTICULARLY THOSE REFERRING TO SOURCES, IN ARTICLES EMANATING FROM GEORGETOWN. (THERE WAS THE RECENT CASE, FOR EXAMPLE, AS TO HOW CERTAIN PEOPLES TEMPLE DOCUMENTS HAD COME INTO THE POSSESSION OF ONE OF THE WIRE SERVICES.)

4. FROM THE BEGINNING OF THIS AFFAIR THE U.S. MISSION HERE AND ITS SPOKESMEN HAVE BEEN EXTREMELY CIRCUMSPECT IN DEALING WITH THE SCORES OF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS WHO HAVE COME INTO GUYANA OVER THE LAST THREE WEEKS. IT WOULD BE EASY TO SAY THAT THE TREASTER STORY WAS PROBABLY OBTAINED FROM GUYANESE SOURCES IN VIEW OF THE FACT THAT ON INSTRUCTION A COPY WAS PLACED IN THEIR POSSESSION THREE DAYS AGO, BUT AS OF NOW THERE IS NO FACTUAL BASIS FOR MAKING SUCH A STATEMENT. ALL THAT CAN BE SAID IS THAT VARIOUS MEMBERS OF THIS MISSION WHO HAVE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TAPE ALL DENY FLATLY HAVING BEEN THE SOURCE FOR MR. TREASTER.

BURKE

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Originally posted on March 24th, 2020.

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