Reuters.- Alex Saab, a businessman wanted by US authorities on money laundering charges on behalf of the Venezuelan government, was extradited from Cape Verde to the United States, local national radio reported on Saturday.
Saab, a Colombian businessman and special envoy for Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, was detained in Cape Verde in June 2020 when his plane stopped there to refuel.
The Cape Verdean government was not immediately available for comment. A constitutional court in the small nation in the Atlantic archipelago ruled in September, after a lengthy court battle, that Saab should be extradited.
Venezuela in a statement confirmed that Saab was taken to the United States, condemned the extradition and indicated that the special envoy was “kidnapped” by the US authorities.
The government of Venezuela “denounces the kidnapping of the Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, by the United States government in complicity with the Cape Verdean authorities, who tortured him and arbitrarily held him prisoner for 491 days, without an arrest warrant or due process. ”Said a statement released by the Communication Minister of the South American country on his Twitter account.
“We hold the Cape Verdean authorities and the Government of President Biden responsible for the life and physical integrity of Alex Saab, and we reserve ourselves as a sovereign nation the actions that we will take accordingly,” he added.
In September, the Venezuelan government delegation included Saab as a member of the negotiating table with the opposition, which is held in Mexico under the facilitation of Norway to seek to solve the country’s political crisis.
“Extradition of Alex Saab is a triumph in the fight against drug trafficking, money laundering and corruption that has led to the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro,” the president of Colombia, Iván Duque, wrote on his Twitter account. “Colombia has supported and will continue to support the United States in an investigation against a transnational crime network led by Saab,” he added.
US judicial authorities have singled out Saab as an operator helping Maduro organize trade deals that Washington seeks to block through sanctions.
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Maduro’s envoy has also been sanctioned for allegedly orchestrating a corruption network that allowed him and the Venezuelan president to benefit from a state food subsidy program.
Saab’s lawyers have called the US charges “politically motivated.”
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