292. Briefing Memorandum From the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Vaky) to the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Newsom)1

Alleged Request for Extradition of Jim Jones

The Department has never received any request for the extradition of Jim Jones, late leader of the Peoples Temple organization, from any Federal or State Judicial Authority. Jones was a co-defendant in a child custody suit in California brought by the child’s mother Mrs. Grace Stoen in early 1977. The court had awarded custody of the child, John Stoen, to his mother and ordered Jones to return the child immediately or be held in contempt of court. However, as Jones was in Guyana at the time of the court’s decision the court order could not be legally enforced.

Mrs. Stoen’s attorney went to Georgetown on September 1, 1977 to begin legal proceedings in the Guyanese Courts to enforce the California Court order. Early in the case the Guyanese presiding judge had ordered Jones’ arrest when it appeared he was evading summons to appear in court.2 The Embassy was reliably informed that the GOG had intervened in the case to stay the arrest order and made an official protest to the GOG about their alleged intervention.3 While the arrest order was never enforced, the case proceeded without apparent further official intervention and was pending at the time of the Jonestown tragedy.

The Department and the Embassy had received reports from unofficial sources that Jones and other members of the Peoples Temple had been under investigation. However, we were never officially informed that there were any outstanding warrants of arrest or indictments issued by any Federal, State or Municipal Judicial Authority against Jim Jones or other members of the Peoples Temple.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, P780182–2415. Confidential. Drafted by McCoy; cleared in L/ARA.
  2. See footnotes 2 and 3, Document 280.
  3. In the margin, an unknown hand wrote, “Judge threatened with assassination and disqualified.”