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FILE PHOTO: A woman walks by a mural in support of the liberation of Colombian businessman and envoy Alex Saab, who is detained in Cape Verde on charges of laundering money for the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas

WORLD NEWS: Maduro envoy Alex Saab extradited to U.S. from Cape Verde



FILE PHOTO: A woman walks by a mural in support of the liberation of Colombian businessman and envoy Alex Saab, who is detained in Cape Verde on charges of laundering money for the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas, Venezuela September 9, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria

October 16, 2021

PRAIA/CARACAS (Reuters) -Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman wanted by U.S. authorities on charges of laundering money on behalf of Venezuela’s government, has been extradited to the United States, and Venezuela in a statement on Saturday called the extradition a “kidnapping.”

Saab, an envoy of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, was detained in Cape Verde in June 2020 when his plane stopped there to refuel.

Cape Verde national radio reported the extradition on Saturday. The government of Cape Verde was not immediately available to comment. The U.S. Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The tiny Atlantic archipelago nation’s constitutional court https://www.reuters.com/world/cape-verde-court-approves-extradition-maduro-envoy-us-2021-09-07 ruled in September after a protracted court battle that Saab should be extradited.

U.S. Justice charged Saab in 2019 in connection with a bribery scheme to take advantage of Venezuela’s state-controlled exchange rate. The U.S. also sanctioned him for allegedly orchestrating a corruption network that allowed Saab and Maduro to profit from a state-run food subsidy program.

Saab’s lawyers have called the U.S. charges “politically motivated.”

Venezuela, in a statement posted by the Ministry of Communications on Twitter on Saturday, condemned the extradition.

Venezuelan “denounces the kidnapping of the Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, on behalf of the government of the United States in complicity with the authorities of Cape Verde, who tortured him and held him prisoner arbitrarily for 491 days, without a warrant or due process,” the statement said.

“The Cape Verde authorities and the government of President Biden are responsible for the life and physical integrity of Alex Saab, and we reserve the right to take actions in response as a sovereign nation.”

The Venezuelan government in September included Saab as a member of its negotiating team at talks with the opposition in Mexico, where the two sides are looking to solve the country’s political crisis.

In a Twitter post, Colombian President Ivan Duque called Saab’s extradition “a triumph in the fight against drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption by the dictatorship of Nicolas Maduro.”

(Reporting by Julio Rodrigues in Praia and Mayela Armas in Caracas; Writing by Bate Felix and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Leslie Adler)





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