Reno Says Elian Is Legally Cleared To Return To Cuba

July 7, 2008 - 7:02 PM

( - Attorney General Janet Reno Thursday said the Justice Department is still trying to work out arrangements for Elian Gonzalez to return to Cuba, but the timing is uncertain because the boy's Miami relatives are appealing the ruling that cleared the way for Elian's return.

"He is legally cleared to go back to Cuba," Reno told reporters at her weekly Washington news conference.

However, Reno cautioned, "I think nobody should jump to any conclusions except that we are trying to work it out in a fair, prompt and very orderly way. Under the order of the judge (US District Judge Michael Moore in Miami), I have the authority to move him. I am trying to work it out so that this is done in a fair, orderly and prompt manner."

When asked what she meant by "prompt," Reno said, "I don't think we can speculate. I think this is obviously a matter of great concern. As the judge pointed out, this family is very well intentioned. They care a great deal. Elian's father cares a very great deal. This is a wonderful little boy from all that I have heard, and it's just important that everybody work it out the right way."

"The Justice Department wants to follow the court's admonition that we not delay the opportunity for this little boy to be with his father. I think it is important that the media, the community, that everybody remember that we have a family here ... Let us work together. Let's do right by the situation."

On Monday, Judge Moore dismissed a lawsuit filed by Elian's Miami relatives, thus giving Attorney General Reno the legal standing to make the decision on whether Elian should be granted asylum in the United States or returned to his father. Reno has said she wants the boy to return to Cuba.

Spencer Eig, the attorney for Elian's Miami relatives, said they will appeal the judge's decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, and he said they may ultimately go to the United States Supreme Court in their effort to keep Elian in America.

Meanwhile, Greg Craig, the attorney for Elian's father, said Mr. Gonzalez would come to the United States "within hours" when the US government tells him he can retrieve his son without getting involved in any further legal battles.