The Washington Post
Thursday, August 16, 2001; Page A13

Conspirator in '76 Letelier Assassination Released


BRADENTON, Fla., Aug. 15 -- A Cuban exile convicted for his role in the 1976 car-bomb assassination of a former Chilean ambassador in Washington has been
released from an immigration service detention center in Florida, an immigration official said today.

Jose Dionisio Suarez Esquivel, 62, who was arrested in St. Petersburg, Fla., in 1990 and pleaded guilty to conspiracy, was freed Tuesday, said immigration officer
David Wing.

"He was released under strict supervision, as would any foreign national who is a felon and we don't have the diplomatic relations to deport," Wing said.

Suarez was sentenced to eight years in prison and then was held in the detention center in Bradenton after his release on probation in 1997 while the Immigration and
Naturalization Service tried to deport him to Cuba.

The communist nation refuses to accept felons and critics of President Fidel Castro.

The Supreme Court ruled in June that indefinite detention of alien felons who have served prison time and are liable for deportation, but for whom no country can be
found, is unconstitutional. That cleared the way for Suarez's release.

Suarez was a member of a militant exile anti-Castro group, the Cuban Nationalist Movement (MNC), which planted a car bomb that killed Orlando Letelier, a
former Chilean ambassador to Washington, and his U.S. assistant, Ronni Moffitt, in 1976. The blast also injured Moffitt's husband.

U.S. prosecutors blamed the Chilean secret police, DINA, for masterminding the plot. Letelier was a harsh critic of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's military regime and was
viewed by Cuban exile groups as allied with Castro.

The Bradenton Herald reported that Suarez planned to move to Miami and live with his brother and that he may write a book.

"I want to clarify a lot of things," Suarez said. "There have been many lies."

                                               © 2001 The Washington Post