Saab, a Colombian businessman close to Maduro, was extradited to the US from Cape Verde on Saturday. Saab was detained in the African nation in June 2020 following an Interpol red notice due to his indictment in the US.
He faces money laundering charges in Florida related to his activity as a government contractor in Venezuela. He also faces charges of money laundering and fraud in his native Colombia.
His extradition, followed by a lengthy court battle in Cape Verde, was confirmed to Granthshala by Saab’s legal defense team on Saturday.
The extradition means Saab is now one of Maduro’s closest confidants available for questioning by US officials. If they had to cooperate, they could significantly advance the Justice Department’s case against Maduro, who is facing charges of narco-terrorism and drug trafficking in New York.
The men detained in Venezuela, collectively known as “CITGO 6”, include former CITGO Petroleum Corporation executives who were arrested in Caracas in 2017 on charges of embezzlement and at home since May were under arrest. They deny the allegations.
The family of one of the six, Jose Pereira, posted a video on Twitter that was shot by him shortly before he was picked up, saying he and his family were “very concerned” about what would happen to them. Saab’s extradition.
Following Saab’s extradition, the Venezuelan government accused the US of “kidnapping” a “diplomat” from Venezuela, according to a statement from the Venezuelan government. Last month, Saab was named as a member of the Venezuelan government’s negotiating team for talks in Mexico with the country’s opposition. According to the Venezuelan government’s chief negotiator, Jorge Rodriguez, as a result of the extradition, the negotiation process was suspended.
The US ambassador to Venezuela and the Norwegian ambassador to Bogota, who are holding talks between the government and the opposition, both declined to comment.
It is unclear where the CITGO 6 detainees were taken on Saturday.
One of his relatives told Granthshala on Saturday that security forces told him he was being picked up from his residence in Caracas for a medical examination.
Pereira in a video posted by his family after the detention “We are recording this video here because we and our families are very worried at this point of time,” he said.
He said the Venezuelan government had already retaliated against CITGO 6 in 2019, when it revoked his detention.
“If we are taken into custody again, it will be in the worst possible circumstances, because Sabin is now managed by the Ministry of Prisons. I want to record this testimony because I am very worried,” he said in the video. said .
Veronica Waddell, the daughter of CITGO 6 member Tomu Waddell, told Granthshala that her father had sent a message to the family warning that she was being picked up.
“The fact that Saab is in America before our father is an absolute disgrace,” she said.
Credit : www.cnn.com