WASHINGTON — Under pressure from Australia and Sweden, the United States decided Friday to release Sergio Buschmann, an accused Chilean terrorist detained in Alaska, diplomatic officials said.
The decision was reached after an international tug of war that had become a major political issue in Chile, Australia and Sweden.
Buschmann is accused of being involved in smuggling 70 tons of Soviet-made weapons into Chile in 1986. He escaped from a Chilean prison the next year.
Buschmann, a member of the Manuel Rodruiguez Front, a left-wing underground group, later told television interviewers that he would do his best to overthrow any Chilean government, even a democratic one that might emerge in the scheduled December elections.
Refugee Status in Sweden
Initially detained in Australia, Buschmann was ordered by immigration officials there to be deported to Sweden, where he had refugee status. He had a U.N. refugee passport.
When his flight to Sweden stopped to refuel in Anchorage, Buschmann was spotted by officers of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, who saw his name on an Interpol watch list. He was taken off the plane and put into "preventive detention" while the U.S. government decided whether to honor a Chilean request to extradite him.
Both Australia and Sweden objected to the U.S. action. The Swedish government contended that Buschmann's detention violated the Geneva Convention of 1951, which protects political refugees from deportation or extradition for political offenses.
Cites U.S. Promises
Chile argued that U.S. promises about fighting terrorism meant he should be deported.
Officials of Chile, Australia and the State Department confirmed that the State Department made a decision late Friday to permit Buschmann to board the next plane that would take him to Sweden.
Complicating the decision was the continuing demand by the United States that Chile extradite two former Chilean officials who had been implicated in the bombing death of Orlando Letelier and Ronnie Moffett in Washington in 1976.