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Elian Gonzalez Case: Justice Department Continues Preparations to Return Boy to Father

Aired April 11, 2000 - 1:04 p.m. ET

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

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: U.S. Officials continue their preparations today to return 6-year-old Elian Gonzalez to the custody of his father. Much of today's activity is centered at the Justice Department.

Our CNN Justice correspondent Pierre Thomas is there, of course, and joins us now with the latest on the story -- Pierre.

PIERRE THOMAS, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Lou, the Justice Department is in the process of preparing a letter that would inform the Miami relatives if they want Elian transferred to his father, perhaps as early as this week.

But there are a number of measures aimed at slowing that down. This afternoon, two mayors from Miami are at the Justice Department to meet with Reno to ask her to slow the process down. They want a 30- day transition period before any changeover takes place.

Now, a few moments ago, we spoke to the mayor of metro Miami, Joe Carollo, and he expressed some concerns about whether Juan Miguel is speaking freely -- the father of the boy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR JOE CAROLLO, MIAMI, FLORIDA: I have never seen a situation before in the history of our country where our government has allowed a foreign government, in this case Cuba, to be fully controlling an individual in American soil like they are doing with Juan Miguel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

THOMAS: Miguel is back at his family's residents in Bethesda, Maryland, the home of a Cuban diplomat. We have not heard from him. There is no response from him yet to those remarks by the mayor, but we will await to hear from him.

Back to you, Lou.

WATERS: Pierre, why is the attorney general meeting with a member or members of the Miami Gonzalez contingent?

THOMAS: Now, we understand that one of the great-uncles is up from Miami to meet with the attorney general, again, to make the case that the boy should remain here in the United States, or at least, at the very least, they would like to have a meeting with Juan Miguel the father. But it is unclear whether that meeting will take place. We were told by the Justice Department that if there is such a meeting, that will have to be determined between Greg Craig, the attorney for Juan Miguel Gonzalez, and the Miami relatives. The Justice Department really won't play a role in that, Lou.

WATERS: All right, Pierre Thomas keeping watch at the Justice Department again today.

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