Activist and founder of the CODEPINK women’s group, Medea Benjamin, stated that the Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, kidnapped by the United States, “has a commitment to himself, to his dignity, to his honor and his major commitment is with the Venezuelan people.” Benjamin, who had the opportunity to visit the special envoy in the Miami federal prison recently, commented on her impressions during the most recent webinar of Hands Off Venezuela, organized by the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign of the Fire This Time Movement of Canada. Medea Benjamin highlighted that Saab remains “firm, with his head held high.”
UN experts* today urged the government of the United States of America to end the prolonged pre-trial detention of Alex Nain Saab Morán, a Venezuelan Special Envoy, arrested and extradited to the US on money laundering charges. Saab was appointed as a Special Envoy by the Government of Venezuela in April 2018 to undertake official missions in Iran to secure humanitarian deliveries to Venezuela, including of food and medicine. In July 2019, he was placed under US sanctions for allegedly being responsible for inter alia engaging in transactions or programmes administered by the Government of Venezuela. On 12 June 2020, during his third trip to Iran, while in transit through Cabo Verde, he was arrested and detained by local authorities.
On August 2, hundreds of social and human rights organizations around the world sent an open letter to US President Joe Biden, calling for the release of imprisoned Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab. The signatories include two Nobel Peace Prize winners, the Tunisian League for Human Rights and Alfonso Perez Esquivel, as a member of the Observatory of Human Rights of the Peoples. Other signatories include the National Lawyers Guild in the US, the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) of Brazil, and Argentina’s Frente Patria Grande. The letter urges Biden to consider Saab’s health conditions, as he is “not receiving medical attention, despite being a cancer survivor and having reported several ailments, including vomiting blood.”
I was invited by Camilla Saab, the spouse of the kidnapped Venezuelan Diplomat, Alex Saab, to attend the international conference titled: "Lawfare Against Venezuela: Three Years After the Kidnapping of Diplomat Alex Saab." This conference, sponsored by the Free Alex Saab Movement, brought activists and revolutionaries from as far as Canada, Slovenia, Uruguay, Argentina, Chile, Spain, Nigeria, England and the United States, to name a few. On June 14th, 2023, a public forum was held at the Jose Felix Ribas Hall, Teatro Teresa Carreno, where invited speakers presented their support for the immediate release of Alex Saab, denouncing the U.S. government for its violation of international law regarding the treatment of diplomatic representatives of foreign nations.
June 12, 2023 was the third anniversary of the illegal kidnapping and imprisonment by the US of Alex Saab. Because the brutality and cruelty of the US blockade was wreaking havoc on the economy and millions of the most vulnerable in Venezuela were being deliberately denied their human rights to the most basic necessities of daily life, President Nicolas Maduro tasked Saab with traveling around the world procuring food, medicines and fuel for his country. Breaking every treaty, protocol, law and norm of international diplomacy, the US plotted to have Saab arrested while in transit to Iran to fulfill his diplomatic mission, by pressing the Cape Verde government to illegally arrest him on June 12 2020.
This Monday marked three years of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab’s illegal detention in a United States prison, in a case in which violations of international law and diplomatic conventions by the US regime stand out. On June 12, 2020, Alex Saab was traveling to Iran on a diplomatic mission for the Venezuelan government to negotiate medical supplies and food for the Venezuelan people amid the crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the strengthening of illegal US and European sanctions. The Venezuelan government plane Saab was traveling in stopped on Sal island in Cape Verde, an archipelago country off the West coast of Africa, to refuel before continuing on its route.
It follows that the continued detention of Alex Saab in the U.S. is a grave violation of his inviolability as Venezuela’s special envoy in transit on a special mission to Iran, which clearly recognized his status and has protested at his illegal arrest and detention. There is abundant evidence of the appointment of Alex Saab to carry out a special mission. The requirement that a special mission must be notified is directed at the receiving state, and it doesn’t make sense to suggest that all transit states must be notified if a special envoy is overflying or in an aircraft that stops to refuel in the transit state. The fact that the U.S. does not recognize the Maduro government in Caracas is irrelevant.
Grand Rapids, MI - The Committee to Free Alex Saab is calling all anti-war and international solidarity activists, community and immigrant rights organizers, labor unionists and students to join in an international week of action to Free Alex Saab. Alex Saab is a Venezuelan diplomat who has been illegally kidnapped and imprisoned by the U.S. government for his work securing food, fuel, medicine and other basic necessities in defiance of the U.S. sanctions on Venezuela. Saab has now been detained for more than 1000 days, unable to see doctors or family members, and his health is rapidly declining.
Today the Free Alex Saab Movement makes an urgent call to the world to denounce the alarming health condition of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, which endangers his life. In July 2021, the Working Group against Torture and several UN rapporteurs expressed their concern about the irreparable deterioration of Alex Saab's health condition. Let us recall that in Cape Verde, on July 7, 2021, after many refusals, Alex Saab was visited by his family doctor, who in his report detected a worrying health condition of the Venezuelan official, especially because Saab is a stomach cancer survivor.
I have been involved with Alex Saab’s legal fight over his assertion of diplomatic immunity since its earliest stages. As is to be expected in a case whose very origins are founded on the interference in the domestic affairs of Venezuela by the United States, there have been many inexplicable judicial decisions since Alex Saab’s initial arrest in Cape Verde on June 12, 2020. The recent decision handed down by Judge Robert Scola in Miami is probably the hardest to understand and justify. On December 23, 2022, Judge Scola denied Special Envoy Alex Saab’s motion to dismiss the indictment issued against him in 2019.
On Monday, Venezuela’s Vice President of Communication, Culture and Tourism Freddy Ñáñez released an audio with statements by Alex Saab which had been sent to the Code Pink organization. In his message, Alex Saab made several complaints about his current situation as “prisoner of an unconventional war that the United States has unilaterally declared on us, imposing criminal sanctions on us that have caused terrible harm to the people of Venezuela.” “The United States must return to the path of peace,” Saab added. “Venezuela is not its enemy. Political differences should not prevent us from maintaining diplomatic or economic relations between our nations.” “The government of our President Nicolás Maduro has already extended his hand several times with the aim of re-establishing cordial relations with the United States—relations based on mutual respect,” Saab said from the Miami prison where he currently is being held.
After Harry Dunn was killed by a car that emerged from a US base in Northamptonshire on 27 August 2019, the driver, Anne Sacoolas, claimed diplomatic immunity and within three weeks was whisked out of the country on a US military aircraft, with the British police only being informed after she’d left. Sacoolas eventually appeared by video at the Old Bailey last month, but is unlikely to serve the suspended sentence she received. The US government refused an extradition request to return her to the UK to face trial, even though her diplomatic immunity arose from a legal ‘anomaly’ that has now been closed. The State Department said that extraditing Sacoolas ‘would render the invocation of diplomatic immunity a practical nullity and would set an extraordinarily troubling precedent’. Yet last month the US denied immunity to the Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, charged with conspiring to launder $350 million via a bank in Florida.
On December 20, in the U.S. District Court of Southern Florida, Judge Robert N. Scola heard oral arguments on Alex Saab’s motion to dismiss the case against him. The factual issue for the Court to decide was “whether Mr. Saab was a special envoy from Venezuela to Iran traveling on a mission when he was detained in Cape Verde and extradited to the U.S. and, therefore, entitled to diplomatic immunity.” Dan was present for the hearing and will discuss, in detail, the hearing results. WTF has been following The Case of Alex Saab since his detainment on Cape Verde 12 June 2020. Today is our third update.
On December 12 to 13, 2022, an evidentiary hearing in the case of The United States v. Alex Saab was heard before Judge Robert Scola in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In “Saab Hearing Proves He Deserves Diplomatic Immunity, Exposes Prosecution’s Duplicity” (coha.org, 12-16-22), I summarize the key facts presented by Alex Saab’s attorney in support of the following argument: “Saab was a diplomat, specifically a Special Envoy, of Venezuela, when he was captured in Cabo Verde, a country off the coast of West Africa in which Saab’s plane stopped to refuel on the way to Iran. Saab, the defense contends, was and is therefore entitled to diplomatic immunity.” Here I provide an update on the hearing of December 20 in which Judge Scola heard legal arguments based upon the evidence submitted the week before.
The trial of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab continued on December 20, when U.S. District Judge Robert Scola heard closing arguments in an evidentiary hearing concerned with whether or not the concept of diplomatic immunity applied to his case. The diplomat was arrested on June 12, 2020, while en route to Iran from Venezuela as part of a special mission to broker a deal for food, fuel, medicine and other essential goods that became scarce in Venezuela due to the U.S. economic blockade. When his plane was forced to refuel in Cape Verde, local authorities arrested and eventually extradited him to the United States, despite the fact that he should have been afforded immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. Saab is facing a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering, which could carry a twenty year sentence if convicted.