MIAMI -- The government asked a federal appeals court today to order Elian Gonzalez's Miami relatives to return the boy to his father, who agreed to stay in this country until an appeals court rules on the case. The relatives, turning to another court for help, invoked the U.N. human-rights charter in asking that Elian stay.
A day after daring the government to take him by force, Elian's Miami relatives vowed today to keep waiting until federal agents come to them -- something that won't happen until a last-minute injunction is resolved in appellate court.
The government filed a brief this morning with that court, the 11th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Atlanta, which had issued the temporary injunction at the relatives' request. The government said the boy's great-uncle Lazaro Gonzalez, who has temporary custody, came to the court with ''unclean hands'' and in violation of an order to surrender the boy, Justice Department spokeswoman Carole Florman said.
The government said Lazaro should not get any help from the court until he obeys the federal order, Florman said. It offered to order Elian kept in the country until all legal issues are resolved -- if Lazaro Gonzalez does turn over the boy.
Elian's father, Juan Miguel Gonzalez, agreed to stay in the United States with the boy for that long if he has custody, according to a letter from his attorney that was attached to the government brief, Florman said.
A remarkable flurry of events Thursday ended with Elian's relatives winning a temporary court reprieve that keeps the 6-year-old boy in the United States for at least a few more days. The government, though, reiterated its plans to act -- when it's legally free to do so.
''We'll take action in a way that's appropriate to the situation when we're ready,'' INS Commissioner Doris Meissner said on NBC's ''Today.''
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