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News ID: 95583
Publish Date : 18 October 2021 - 22:04
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MIAMI (Dispatches) -- A fugitive businessman accused in a politically-charged case by the U.S. of acting as a money launderer for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s regime said he would not collaborate with the United States, a day after he was extradited to the country from Cape Verde.
Maduro said Sunday evening in a televised address that Alex Saab’s extradition on Saturday was “one of the most ignoble and vulgar injustices that has been committed in recent decades.”
Authorities had held a rally in Saab’s support earlier Sunday in Caracas, during which his wife, Camilla Fabri, read aloud a letter from him.
“I will face my trial with total dignity,” Saab said in the letter. “I want to be clear: I do not have to collaborate with the United States. I have committed no crime.
“I declare that I am in full possession of my means and I am not suicidal, in case I am murdered and then (they) say that I committed suicide. “
Saab, a Colombian national, and his business partner Alvaro Pulido are charged in the United States with running a network that allegedly exploited food aid destined for Venezuela, an oil-rich nation mired in an acute economic crisis amid U.S. sanctions. They risk up to 20 years in prison.
The U.S. Justice Department said in a statement that Saab was due to appear in court in Florida on Monday and expressed “admiration” to authorities in Cape Verde for submitting to Washington’s demand to extradite him.
Venezuela reacted furiously, suspending talks with the U.S.-backed opposition on ending the country’s political and economic crisis.
Saab, who also has Venezuelan nationality and a Venezuelan diplomatic passport, was indicted in July 2019 in Miami, and was arrested during a plane stopover in Cape Verde off the coast of West Africa in June 2020.
In a development not officially linked to the Saab extradition, shortly after the news broke, six former oil executives under house arrest for corruption in Venezuela were taken to an undisclosed prison.
They had worked for Citgo, a U.S.-based subsidiary of the state oil company PDVSA. Five of the six hold U.S. citizenship and the other is a permanent resident of the United States.
Cape Verde agreed last month to extradite Saab to the United States, despite protests from Venezuela, which said he had been abducted by Washington.
“Venezuela denounces the kidnapping of the Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab by the government of the United States in complicity with the authorities in Cape Verde,” the Caracas government said in a statement.

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