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Cranston Favors Arafat's Arrest if Justified by Evidence

February 13, 1986|DOUGLAS SHUIT | Times Staff Writer

SACRAMENTO — U.S. Sen. Alan Cranston on Wednesday called for the indictment and arrest of Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat if evidence links him to the murder of two American diplomats 13 years ago.

Cranston in a speech to Sacramento's Comstock Club, an organization of business people, said the Justice Department is reviewing evidence believed to show that Arafat ordered the deaths of Cleo Noel, the U.S. ambassador to the Sudan, and Charge d'Affaires G. Curtis Moore in 1973.

The California Democrat, who is up for reelection in November, said "a warrant for Arafat's arrest should be issued and a criminal indictment filed against him" if the allegations are substantiated.

Cranston made public a letter to U.S. Atty. Gen. Edwin Meese III that he signed along with 43 Senate colleagues calling on the Justice Department to give "highest priority" to a review of the evidence.

Tape Recording

He and the other senators said they believe that the Justice Department has a tape recording of Arafat ordering the deaths of Noel and Moore, along with Belgian diplomat Guy Eid. The three were murdered by terrorists who seized the Saudi Arabian embassy in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum.

The Justice Department is already being pressed by Jewish organizations and political conservatives to prosecute Arafat.

The matter was seen as a test of the Administration's willingness to use all the legal weapons it possesses to combat international terrorism and follow through on President Reagan's promise last year that "we will seek to indict, apprehend and prosecute" terrorists.

Speaking with reporters after the speech, Cranston refused to comment on the indictment of Rep. Bobbi Fiedler of Northridge for allegedly offering to pay off a $100,000 campaign debt of Sen. Ed Davis of Valencia in exchange for Davis' dropping out of the GOP primary for Cranston's U.S. Senate seat. "I just don't want to get into their squabble," he said.

Matter of Principle

Cranston again refused to say how he will vote on the November confirmation election of California Chief Justice Rose Elizabeth Bird, calling his stance a matter of principle.

"I deeply believe that we should not inject partisanship into judicial races, and I am not about to participate in injecting partisanship into judicial races," Cranston said.

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