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Cuban Exiles To Sue NY Times

July 16, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ An influential Cuban exile group asked The New York Times to retract two stories that linked the group’s founder to a series of bombings aimed at overthrowing Fidel Castro.

In stories published Sunday and Monday, the Times quoted a militant Cuban exile as saying his bombing campaign in Cuba was financed by the Cuban American National Foundation and by its late leader, Jorge Mas Canosa.

``The New York Times slandered, and the New York Times lied,″ said Jorge Mas Santos, who took over as the group’s director after his father’s death last year.

The Times stands by the stories, spokeswoman Nancy Nielsen said today.

``They have pointed to nothing in the Times stories that requires a correction in our view,″ she said.

A lawyer for the Miami-based group released a letter today asking the newspaper’s publisher and executive editor to withdraw the portions of the stories dealing with the alleged bombing links. The letter, sent Wednesday, also called the two reporters biased and the exile they quote unreliable.

At a news conference today, lawyer George Fowler said the group also plans to seek monetary damages in a lawsuit. Fowler said the group has not decided where or when to sue. It is not clear whether the suit would allege libel, defamation or both.

``These articles are offensive, slanderous and defamatory,″ Mas said. He alleged that the Times had a longstanding bias in favor of Castro’s Communist regime.

Mas said the Times knew the charges were false.

The newspaper said in a statement Wednesday that information for the earlier articles came from more than 100 sources, including some 13 hours of interviews with militant exile Luis Posada Carriles, and from FBI and CIA files on Posada and the elder Mas.

Posada told the Times he is responsible for organizing a series of bombings last year at hotels, nightclubs and restaurants in Cuba. One blast killed an Italian tourist.

The articles, written by Times reporter Larry Rohter and free-lance journalist Ann Louise Bardach, quoted Posada as saying the late founder of the foundation sent him more than $200,000 over the years to help finance the campaign.

However, Posada denied making any such statements in an interview with Miami television station WLTV shown Tuesday. The foundation played a tape of the interview, in Spanish, at a news conference today.

The Times said: ``The statements from Mr. Posada cited in the New York Times were recorded, transcribed and reproduced accurately in the stories.″

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