Haas correspondence with State Department, June 15, 1978

[Letterhead of Jeffrey Haas, attorney-at-law, San Francisco]

June 15, 1978

Stephen A. Dobrenchuk, Chief
Emergency & Protection Service Division
Department of State
Washington, DC 20520

Dear Mr. Dobrenchuk:

Thank you for your letter of April 14, 1978 wherein you claim that Mr. Clarence Hughes has expressed a favorable opinion with regard to the Stoens’ custody case in Guyana. Mr. Hughes has consistently remained guarded as to the outcome of the procedural aspects in this custody case. He is aware, as are you, that there was governmental interference as early as September of 1977.

I am enclosing an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury by Deborah Blakey. Ms. Blakey recently escaped from the People’s Temple and is extremely concerned for the welfare of not only John Victor Stoen, but also the remaining US citizens in Jonestown.

She points out that while the State Dept. has made some contact with American citizens living in Jonestown, its investigation to uncover the actual conditions is inadequate.

-2-

I continue to regard this matter as extremely important, and again request your assistance in reaching some solution. The Guyanese judge has now had a habeas corpus matter under submission for nearly five months. This is wholly unacceptable under any law with which I am familiar, and I think without question constitutes “excessive delay”. Further, referring to paragraph (17) of the enclosed affidavit, Ms. Blakey makes it clear that the delay is due to Mr. Jim Jones threat of mass suicide.

I have been advised that the State Dept.’s legal advisor would be in contact with me regarding an interpretation of international law governing this case. Our position was enclosed with our letter of March 16, 1978. As of yet, I have received no response.

I look forward to your immediate attention to this most critical situation.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Jeffrey A. Haas
Jeffrey A. Haas

*****

[Letterhead of Jeffrey Haas, attorney-at-law, San Francisco]

June 15, 1978

Ms. Elizabeth A. Powers
Special Consular Services
Department of State
Washington DC 20520

Dear Ms. Powers:

I am enclosing an affidavit signed under penalty of perjury by Deborah Blakey. Ms. Blakey recently escaped from the People’s Temple and is extremely concerned for the welfare of not only John Victor Stoen, but also the remaining US citizens in Jonestown.

She points out that while the State Dept. has made some contact with American citizens living in Jonestown, its investigation to uncover the actual conditions is inadequate. I continue to regard this matter as extremely important, and again request your assistance in reaching some solution. The Guyanese judge has now had a habeas corpus matter under submission for nearly five months. This is wholly unacceptable under any law with which I am familiar, and I think without question constitutes “excessive delay”. Further, referring to paragraph (17) of the enclosed affidavit, Ms. Blakey makes it clear that the delay is due to Mr. Jim Jones threat of mass suicide.

-2-

I have been advised that the State Dept.’s legal advisor would be in contact with me regarding an interpretation of international law governing this case. Our position was enclosed with our letter of March 16, 1978. As of yet, I have received no response.

I look forward to your immediate attention to this most critical situation.

Very truly yours,
/s/ Jeffrey A. Haas
Jeffrey A. Haas

[Editor’s note: An identical letter was sent from Jeffrey Haas to Douglas J. Bennet, Jr., Assistant Secretary for Congressional Relations at the Department of State on the same day.]

Originally posted on June 17th, 2020.

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