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Family of Elian Gonzalez Requests Expedited Appeal in Federal Court

Aired March 27, 2000 - 2:19 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: Under strong pressure from the Justice Department, the relatives of Elian Gonzalez asked a federal court today to give quick consideration to their appeal. As you know, they're trying to keep him in the United States.

CNN's Susan Candiotti is watching developments in Miami. Here she is -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, Natalie.

It's unclear at this time whether the Justice Department will be happy with what the attorneys representing the Florida relatives of 6- year-old Elian Gonzalez had to say this day. On the one hand, those attorneys said that they are complying with the Justice Department ultimatum for a speedy appeals process, and those attorneys add that they will work diligently to meet a series of specific dates for a briefing schedule laid out by the government.

But on the other hand, they filed a motion with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals asking that court to set out briefing schedule. So the question is, will the Justice Department be satisfied with that settlement or suggestion?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LINDA OSBERG-BRAUN, GONZALEZ FAMILY ATTORNEY: The INS has placed us in an untenable position, and they have given us two ultimatums. The ultimatums place us in a position where we have to choose between Elian Gonzalez's very valuable appellate right and a winning appellate brief versus picking Elian up and taking him away to Cuba, which we all know will obliterate his appellate right, and the United States doesn't have the power to ever get him back.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: Now as you look at videotape of little Elian Gonzalez playing outside of his home on Sunday, we will remind you that the Justice Department has said that if it doesn't receive a satisfactory answer from attorneys representing this little boy's Florida relatives, they will revoke the boy's temporary parole status on Thursday, this Thursday, and that could begin setting the stage for the boy's return to his father in Cuba. Currently, the Justice Department says it is studying the letter it has received from the attorneys. What it particularly wants to know is if this family loses all of its appeals, will the family abide by the law, that is to say, will they turn the boy over?

What we know so far is that the attorneys for the family say they will do what is required by the law -- Natalie.

ALLEN: And, Susan, what do you know about how he's doing through all this and how much he knows about what's going on?

CANDIOTTI: A spokesperson for the family says that this is a very bright little boy, that he understands quite a bit of what's going on beyond him, around him. However, they are hesitant to say that they've explained any of this in any detail to him because they say that they do not want to upset this child. However, they say that they were indeed desperate enough about his status here to allow him to sit down before -- and they requested -- a television interview with the boy. They say that is an effort to give voice to Elian, to allow him to explain in own words why he does not want to return to his father in Cuba -- Natalie.

ALLEN: All right, Susan Candiotti watching that story continue in Miami.

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