By manipulating the Costa Rican media and playing to Costa Rica’s self-image as a protector of human
rights, Chere Lyn Tomayko and her team of supporters were able to persuade Janina Del Vecchio, the security minister, to confer refugee status even before the Supreme Court had issued its ruling on Ms. Tomayko’s extradition.
That is a summary of a diplomatic cable sent by Ambassador Peter Cianchette about the much publicized child abduction case.
“Sadly, although Tomayko has avoided returning to the U.S. to answer for her crime, she remains a fugitive with outstanding international arrest warrants against her. She has thus effectively made herself a ‘prisoner for life’ in Costa Rica,” he said in the cable Aug. 8, 2008. The cable is among those released by Wikileaks.
Cianchette was outlining to the State Department the circumstances of the case where the security minister acted to prevent the extradition of Ms. Tomayko, a U.S. citizen facing an indictment for international child abduction.
Ms. Tomayko came to Costa Rica in 1997 from Texas with a daughter. The U.S. Embassy did not orchestrate her arrest until the girl turned 18.
Ms. Tomayko claimed in the press that she had been the victim of domestic violence, something her daughter’s father denied.
“Local media helped by painting the extradition request as a callous move which would “separate an abused mother from her children,” said the ambassador. “To all the parties involved, Tomayko repeated her unsubstantiated allegations of domestic violence suffered at the hands of [Roger] Cyprian and her fear that she and her daughter would be in danger if they were returned to the U.S.”
In a note, the ambassador’s cable said that expat media, meaning A.M. Costa Rica, had blamed the embassy for foot dragging in the case and that it had protected Ms. Tomako since 2002. Cianchette, who was not in Costa Rica during most of the case, claimed this was not true. However, he did not give any evidence.
The ambassador said the decision to grant refugee status to Ms. Tomayko was purely a political one and that it might have negative consequences. However, there have been no obvious consequences.