At the time of writing this interview, Alex Saab has already been incarcerated for 885 days in a prison in Florida, United States, according to leaderboards laid out on the social media of the people campaigning for his release. Saab is being held there until the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida determines whether or not the United States accepts his diplomatic status; their acceptance would obligate them to release Saab, says his legal defense team. Indhriana Parada, a lawyer who is part of Alex Saab’s legal team, spoke to Últimas Noticias about his case, where she discussed a declassified document that records Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State for Donald Trump, admitting to Alex Saab’s diplomatic status.
A year ago, October 16, the long arm of US extra-territorial judicial overreach abducted Alex Saab and threw him into prison in Miami, where the Venezuelan diplomat has languished ever since. The official narrative is that Saab had bilked the Venezuelans in a “vast corruption network” and the US as the world’s self-appointed cop was simply enforcing good business practices. However, commentary by Washington insiders corroborates that Saab’s “crime” was trying to obtain humanitarian supplies in legal international trade but in circumvention of the illegal US sanctions on Venezuela. Back on June 12, 2021, Mr. Saab was on a humanitarian mission to procure needed food, fuel, and medicine for the people of Venezuela who had been suffering from an unconscionable blockade of their country.
Caracas, October 1, 2022 (OrinocoTribune.com)—On Saturday, October 1, the US government confirmed through a statement the release of seven US citizens, four of whom are naturalized US citizens and one is US residents. Among the released prisoners are five of the CITGO 6. In a similar manner, the Venezuelan government reported in an official statement about the release by US authorities of “two young Venezuelans who had been unjustly detained,” without providing their names. The seven freed US nationals, sentenced by the Venezuelan justice system for committing corruption and/or terrorist crimes, are now on their way to the US and are in good health, according to White House officials who provided more detail on the issue in a press conference. It was also informed that US President Joe Biden “spoke to the families of those detained in the CITGO case and shared the good news.”
Ambassador Alex Saab, a victim of the US economic war to achieve regime change in Venezuela, has been under arrest for over two years. This article recounts the developments in the diplomat’s court case. Saab is fighting against his illegal detention and extradition before the 8th District Court in Miami. As Venezuela’s special envoy and a deputy ambassador to the African Union, Saab has diplomatic immunity from arrest and detention under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Although a party to the convention, the US has flouted this principle of international law. Alex Saab was targeted by the US because of his role in helping circumvent their sanctions imposed on Venezuela. These measures, a form of collective punishment, are intended to make conditions so onerous that the people would renounce their elected government. Such unilateral coercive measures constitute hybrid warfare and are illegal under international law.
The documentary Alex Saab, A Kidnapped Diplomat, directed by Venezuelan journalist and documentary filmmaker Karen Méndez, which tells the truth about the illegal detention of Venezuelan ambassador Alex Saab, first in Cape Verde and since October 2021 in the United States, premiered on Friday, September 16. “For years, opinion experts on media have lied about Alex Saab, and they hide the truth that he brought food, medicine and fuel to Venezuela in the midst of the total blockade by the US,” Méndez wrote on Twitter. “It is time to listen to lawyers, experts and family members to understand the story of the first diplomat to be kidnapped in the history of the world.”
After more than two years questioning Venezuelan Alex Saab’s diplomatic status, the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has now conceded that he is a special envoy. The dramatic U-turn was made in a filing before Justice Scola on Tuesday, September 13, in a hearing that was held regarding Saab’s motion to compel the DoJ to hand over certain documents, which his defense believes would be beneficial to his claim of diplomatic immunity. Alex Saab’s defense has been pushing the DoJ for some months now to make what are called “Brady disclosures.” These require that information and evidence that is material to the guilt or innocence of a defendant must be disclosed by the prosecutor to the defense team. The term comes from the 1963 US Supreme Court case (Brady v. Maryland), in which the Supreme Court ruled that suppression by the prosecution of evidence favorable to a defendant who has requested it violates due process.
This Saturday, September 10, the Venezuelan government rejected, through a communique, the statement made on Friday by US Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price, labeling US Marine veteran and MVM Inc. “contractor” Matthew Heath’s detention as wrongful and his arrest as based on specious charges. At the time of his capture in September 2020, Heath had allegedly already taken photos of strategic military and oil refining facilities in Zulia and Falcón states. He entered Venezuela illegally from Colombia through Paraguachón (Zulia state) and his final destination was Aruba. To avoid being detained at checkpoints, he “hired” National Guard 3rd Sergeant Major Darwin Adreizo Urdaneta Pardo, who would be his “safeguard.”
US special presidential envoy for hostage affairs Roger Carstens is on a case which could lead to freeing Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab. Pressure is building on the Biden administration to swap Saab for some American citizens currently incarcerated in Venezuela. Alex Saab, who has been confined for over two years, is a victim of the US economic war calculated to achieve regime-change in Venezuela. He has been targeted because of his role in helping circumvent the sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US. These measures, really collective punishment, are intended to make conditions so onerous there that the people would renounce their elected government. Such unilateral coercive measures are illegal under international law.
The United States constantly accuses its adversaries of holding political prisoners, while insisting it has none of its own. But for its entire history, the US government has used incarceration of its political opponents as a tool to crush dissent and advance the interests of economic elites. Well-known cases are those entrapped or framed in US national security state sting operations, or imprisoned with extreme sentences for a minor offense because of their political activism, such as Black revolutionary George Jackson. Each period of struggle by the working class and oppressed peoples against ruling-class control results in some activists locked up for their revolutionary work. “Political prisoner” has often meant those revolutionaries jailed for fighting their national oppression, as is the case with a great number of Black Panthers.
More than two years have already passed since, on June 12, 2020, Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab was illegally kidnapped during a technical stopover in Cape Verde and taken to prison, without an arrest warrant. He would remain there until October 16, 2021, when he would be deported to the United States, despite the fact that the appeal against his extradition had not yet been concluded, and despite repeated protests from various international organizations against the arbitrary detention and torture that he has suffered. Blackmailed by the US government, the government of Cape Verde, already at the end of its legislative period, had remained deaf to the exhortations of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which the island is also a member, the American League for Human Rights, the American Association of Jurists, the Hadassah National Center of Canada, and the UN itself.
In his new memoir, Sacred Oath, former US Defense Secretary, Mark Esper, who served under President Donald Trump at the time of the arrest of Alex Saab in Cape Verde, effectively admits that the White House was quite aware of the fact that Saab was a diplomat at the time of his capture. As Esper writes, “At Maduro’s direction, Saab was reportedly on special assignment to negotiate a deal with Iran for Venezuela to receive more fuel, food, and medical supplies. Saab was Maduro’s long standing point man when it came to crafting the economic deals and other transactions that were keeping the regime afloat*.*” Esper’s recognition that Alex Saab was “on special assignment” and negotiated economic deals for Venezuela is a tacit recognition of Saab’s diplomatic status.
Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab’s case took a dramatic turn as his legal defense team denounced the US government’s flagrant failure to respect long-standing diplomatic immunity conventions. Saab’s lawyer, David Rivkin, called the US government’s arguments before the 11th Circuit Court in Miami “utterly dangerous.” “The implication,” he added is that “because you are a disfavored regime, because you're Venezuela under Maduro…we're going to treat you as somehow you lost the Westphalian entitlement to sovereignty.” And with that, Rivkin pretty much summed up the US imperial view of the world. At issue at the April 6 hearing was Saab’s claim to diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomat Relations.
This Wednesday, April 6, Venezuela’s National Assembly (AN) unanimously approved a draft agreement to demand acknowledgement of the diplomatic status of Alex Saab, who has been illegally imprisoned in the United States since October 2021. The AN statement establishes that Alex Saab has been serving as a diplomatic agent since 2018, as a special envoy for Venezuela in Russia and Iran, and since 2020 as ambassador plenipotentiary to the African Union. In addition, he was appointed in 2021 as permanent representative of the national government’s delegation for the Mexico Talks held with the opposition.
In a world where the US believes it makes the rules and the rest of humanity must follow its orders – what President Biden euphemistically calls the “rules-based order” – Washington has now even appropriated the prerogative to tell other countries who they may appoint as their ambassadors. As a consequence, Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab is fighting for his freedom before the 11th District Circuit Court in Miami. US economic war against Venezuela Alex Saab was appointed a special envoy with diplomatic credentials by the Venezuelan government on April 9, 2018. The businessman had worked on the government’s food assistance (CLAP) and public housing programs. More importantly, he was assisting the government in trying to circumvent sanctions imposed on Venezuela by the US; sanctions intended to punish the people so that they would be motivated to overthrow their democratically elected government.
Unlike Ukraine, Venezuela successfully resisted the violent US-led coup attempt in 2014, and in other years, by right wing forces and the hybrid war being waged against it. Venezuela is recovering despite the ongoing economic blockade. Now, because the United States needs oil, the Biden administration has started talking to the Maduro government and there is hope that relations between the two countries may resume. For an update on this situation, as well as the future of Venezuela's US-based oil company CITGO, the status of Venezuela's gold in the Bank of London, the demise of Juan Guaido, and the kidnapping of Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, Clearing the FOG speaks with Leonardo Flores, the Latin American campaign director for CODEPINK.