June 3, 1975.
Cuba has sent three U.S. citizens to Barbados and into FBI hands on aircraft hijacking charges, the State Department said yesterday.
The three were the first alleged hijackers to be sent home by Cuba since it signed an agreement with the United States more than two years ago to either detain persons who forced airliners to carry them to asylum in Cuba or to return them to the United States to stand trial.
The State Department said it was studying the significance of the move, which comes at a time when the United States and other members of the Organization of American States are studying possible lifting of OAS diplomatic and trade sanctions imposed on Cuba in 1964.
“The U.S. government was not informed by Cuba” of the decision to release the Americans, a State Department official said. “The U.S. government does not yet know whether this is the beginning of the release of hijackers by Cuba. . . . It may well be, but we don’t know.”
Gregory Alexander Graves, 26, was flown to Georgia yesterday by the FBI to stand trial for the 1971 hijacking to Cuba of a Delta Air Lines plane on a flight from Atlanta to Savannah, the agency disclosed.
Graves was arrested at San Juan, P.R., International Airport Sunday on his arrival from Bridgetown, Barbados. Graves gave Kansas City as his home address.
Eight days earlier, FBI agents at the San Juan airport arrested Carl White and his wife, Norma, of Detroit, on their arrival from Barbados. They have been flown to San Diego, Calif., to face trial for hijacking a National Airlines plane to Cuba in 1971 while en route from Los Angeles to Tampa, Fla.
State Department officials said Cuba informed the United States of the release of the Whites and Graves only after their arrival in Barbados. Commercial flights between Cuba and Barbados were established a few months ago.
Officials said the United States does not know how many of the estimated 100 U.S. citizens who have hijacked airplanes to Cuba are under arrest there or even still on the island.