Dec 17, 78 • 2207 • Georgetown-State • 4317

[Editor’s note: This document was released both as a State Department cable as part of its 1981 FOIA release, and as Serial 1509 of the FBI’s RYMUR release. The text was released at https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/1978GEORGE04317_d.html.

[The State Department release withheld two paragraphs from this cable under the national security exemption. They are denoted below in red type.]

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GEORGE 04317 172250Z
ACTION ARA-15
INFO OCT-01 EUR-12 ISO-00 SY-05 CA-01 MCT-02 SCS-06
AID-05 USSS-00 TRSE-00 FBIE-00 JUSE-00 CIAE-00
DODE-00 PM-05 H-01 INR-10 L-03 NSAE-00 PA-01
SP-02 SS-15 NSCE-00 SSO-00 ICAE-00 INRE-00 /084 W
——————036877 172254Z /21

O 172207Z DEC 78
FM AMEMBASSY GEORGETOWN
TO SECSTATE WASHDC NIACT IMMEDIATE 8482
INFO AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY CARACAS IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY BERN IMMEDIATE
AMEMBASSY PANAMA IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L GEORGETOWN 4317
E.O. 12065: GDS 12117/84 (BURKE, JOHN ) OR-M
TAGS: UR, OREP, GY, CDES, PINT
SUBJ: PEOPLE’ TEMPLE REQUEST TO THE USSR REVEALED AS CORONER’S INQUEST INTO THE JONESTOWN DEATHS CONCLUDES

1. TESTIMONY IN THE CORONER’S INQUEST ENDED AT 3 P. M. LOCAL DECEMBER 17 WITH THE VERDICT PROMISED BY PRESIDING MAGISTRATE FOR WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 20. WHILE MOST OF THE EVIDENCE PRESENTED IN THE LAST THREE DAYS OF THE INQUEST PRODUCED LITTLE INFORMATION NOT PREVIOUSLY REPORTED, THE LAST WITNESS, ASST POLICE COMMISSIONER CECIL ROBERTS, UNEXPECTEDLY INTRODUCED IN EVIDENCE LETTERS WHICH HAD BEEN SEIZED ALONG WITH A SUITCASE FULL OF AMERICAN AND GUYANESE CURRENCY FROM THREE SURVIVORS WHO HAD FLED JONESTOWN ON THE NIGHT OF THE MURDERS/SUICIDES (NOVEMBER 18). THESE LETTERS REVEAL THAT PEOPLE’S TEMPLE HAD MORE THAN $7,000.000 IN ACCOUNTS WITH BRANCHES OF TWO SWISS BANKING FIRMS IN PANAMA, AND THAT THE LEADERS OF THE PEOPLE'[S] TEMPLE, ON THE FINAL DAY, HAD DIRECTED THAT THESE FUNDS BE PAID TO FEODOR TIMOFEYEV, PRESS AND CONSULAR ATTACHÉ OF THE SOVIET EMBASSY IN GEORGETOWN

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FOR ULTIMATE TRANSMISSION TO THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE USSR.

2. OF THE LETTERS SUBMITTED AS HAVING BEEN FOUND BY THE POLICE IN THE POSSESSION OF TIMOTHY AND MICHAEL CARTER AND MICHAEL PROKES, TWO ARE ADDRESSED TO OFFICES OF THE PRANCHES [BRANCHES] OF THE UNITED BANK OF SWITZWERLAND [SWITZERLAND] AND THE SWISS BANKING CORPORATION, BOTH IN PANAMA.

THE LETTERS DIRECT THAT THE FUNDS DEPOSITED IN THESE ACCOUNTS, AS THE DEPOSITS MATURE, BE PAID TO TIMOFEYEV. A COVERING LETTER, ADDRESSED TO TIMOFEYEV, STATES THAT WITH THE LETTERS ADDRESSED TO THE BANKS, HE SHOULD HAVE NO TROUBLE CLAIMING THE FUNDS AND THAT HE SHOULD FORWARD THE FUNDS FOR THE USE BY THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE USSR FOR THE PARTY’S VARIOUS ACTIVITIES. ANOTHER LETTER, ALLEGEDLY WRITTEN BY PEOPLE’S TEMPLE MEMBER- MARIA KATSARIS DIRECTS THAT ALL OF THE MONEY IN ANOTHER ACCOUNT IN THE BANCO UNION DE VENEZUELA ALSO BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE SOVIET UNION. NO AMOUNT IS SPECIFIED IN THIS DOCUMENT WHICH IS HAND-WRITTEN IN THE FORM OF A WILL.

3. THE CONSULAR OFFICER PRESENT AT TODAY’S SESSION FO [FOR] THE INQUEST WAS PRIVATELY ADVISED BY ASST COMMISSIONER ROBERTS THAT THE TEXTS OF ALL OF THESE LETTERS HAD PREVIOUSLY BEEN MADE AVILABLE [AVAILABLE] TO THE FBI TECHNICAL TEAM WHICH HAS BEEN IN GOERGETOWN [GEORGETOWN] UNDER THE TERMS OF AN ARRANGEMENT WITH THE GOG [GOVERNMENT OF GUYANA] TO SHARE EVIDENTIARY MATERIAL RELATING TO PEOPLE’S TEMPLE FOR POSSIBLE USE IN PROSECUTIONS.

4. TODAY’S INQUEST WAS WELL COVERED BY FOREIGN FRESS [PRESS] CORPS INCLUDING REPORTERS FROM THE ASSOCIATES [ASSOCIATED] PRESS, NEW YORK TIMES, CHICAGO TRIBUNE, SAN FRANCISCO EXAMINER, LOS ANGELES TIMES.

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5. COMMENT: INTRODUCTION OF THESE LETTERS BY THE GOG AT A CORONER’S INQUEST IS INDEED CURIOUS. IT DOES PROVIDE AN OPPORTUNITY FOR GOG TO PLACE THESE DOCUMENTS ON THE PUBLIC RECORD UNDER THE GUISE OF A LEGAL PROCEEDING. HAD THEY BEEN RELEASED PUBLICLY TO THE PRESS BY THE GOG THE SOVIET EMBASSY WOULD HAVE PORTESTED [PROTESTED] THE DISCLOSURE AS AN UNFIENDLY [UNFRIENDLY] ACT. AT LEAST LAMELY, THE GOG CAN NOW ARGUE THAT THE EVIDENCE WAS ESSENTIAL TO THE CONDUCT OF THE INQUEST AND THE DETERMINATION OF ITS FINDINGS. THE SOVIET EMBASSY HAS ALREADY SHOWN ITSELF HERE IN GEORGETOWN TO BE ACUTELY SENSITIVE TO THE “JONESTOWN CONNECTION.” AFTER TODAY’S REVELATIONS, THAT DISCOMFORT IS CERTAIN TO GROW.

BURKE [JOHN BURKE, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO GUYANA]

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Originally posted on March 25th, 2020.

Last modified on July 6th, 2022.
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