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.
Tuesday, September 12th is Leonard Peltier’s 79th birthday. Peltier is the longest serving Indigenous political prisoner in the history of the United States, having served nearly 50 years in federal prison. Please join us in demanding clemency for Leonard Peltier. “The Leonard Peltier Ad Hoc Committee is thrilled to announce the release of this new video about the life of Leonard Peltier, created by a group of his friends and supporters. This video is being released free of charge to all of Mr. Peltier's supporters.” In addition, a separate collaboration between Amnesty International and NDN Collective organized a 4-stop caravan pick-up for Leonard Peltier supporters in Rapid City, Minneapolis, Chicago and Pittsburgh.
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 at 4:08 pm, March 31, 2023, Common Pleas court Judge Lucretia Clemons denied Mumia Abu-Jamal’s request for a new trial. This is simply devastating news. After 43 years in prison, Mumia Abu-Jamal has exhausted nearly all of his avenues for relief. Make no mistake: Justice required that Mumia Abu-Jamal be given a new trial. The enemy now is time. At 68 years old Mumia is suffering from cardiac disease and has had a double bypass, and nearly died from lack of treatment for acute Hepatitis C. If you put thick blinders on that block out all reality and rely on procedural minutia for cover, honestly, it is still impossible to avoid the scorchingly blatant racism of trial Judge Albert Sabo, Assistant District Attorney Joseph McGill, Mayor and former police chief Frank Rizzo, District Attorney during Mumia’s trial Ed Rendell, and Ron Castille, DA and former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice.
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 don’t much like media,” mutters John Shipton, the father of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. During the first minutes of “Ithaka,” an Australia documentary that follows John as he campaigns for his son’s freedom, it becomes clear that he is not someone who is accustomed to appearing on camera or before groups of people to ask for their support. John is asked how he got along with Assange, a tedious question that he resents given the harsh circumstances. However, the question is reasonable given the fact that Assange grew up without his father. “The story is, I’m attempting in my own humble modest way to get Julian out of the shit,” John replies.
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.
The film Ithaka, the title taken from a poem by C.P Cavafy, chronicles the slow-motion torture and execution of the Australian journalist Julian Assange, currently awaiting extradition to the United States in a high security prison in London. It charts his journey from publisher of the most important revelations of our generation of fraud, war crimes, lies and corruption by the powerful to his refuge for seven years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London from 2012 to 2019, his seizure and arrest by British police, who enter the embassy to detain him, and harsh imprisonment in Belmarsh prison where he currently fights a U.S. extradition request. It unflinchingly portrays the terrible emotional cost to him and his family, including his father John, his wife Stella, and their two young children.
The FBI’s repeated opposition to the release of Leonard Peltier is driven by vindictiveness and misplaced loyalties, according to a former senior agent close to the case who is the first agency insider to call for clemency for the Indigenous rights activist who has been held in US maximum security prisons for almost five decades. Coleen Rowley, a retired FBI special agent whose career included 14 years as legal counsel in the Minneapolis division where she worked with prosecutors and agents directly involved in the Peltier case, has written to Joe Biden making a case for Peltier’s release. “Retribution seems to have emerged as the primary if not sole reason for continuing what looks from the outside to have become an emotion-driven ‘FBI Family’ vendetta,” said Rowley in the letter sent to the US president in December and shared exclusively with the Guardian.
On January 8, 2023 the US has to release one of its many political prisoners, most being fighters against its repression of Third World peoples. Ana Belén Montes, heroic defender of Cuba’s sovereignty, will be freed after over 21 years in a federal military prison. She was a top official on Latin America in the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) who, solely out of moral conviction, gave Cuba information on top secret US military plans and operations. Unrepentant in her trial, she defended herself saying, “I obeyed my conscience rather than the law. … I felt morally obligated to help the island defend itself from our efforts to impose our values and our political system on it.” She is one of the many exemplary people who have taken an honorable and moral stance, opposing the reprehensible actions of government, and have been accused of being traitors or spies.
On Tuesday, December 13, the second day of the hearing (see first day here), the prosecution presented its case why the US rejects Saab’s status as a diplomat. The prosecution presentation initially focused on Saab being a “cooperative source” for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) between 2016-2019, meeting with DEA agents several times. The prosecutor asserted that Saab explained to the DEA how he conducted business, how he paid off Venezuelan government officials, and that he paid the DEA millions of dollars. The Saab defense did not respond to this, an issue that is entirely out of the domain of this hearing. The corporate media has covered this in the past (here and here).
The long delayed official hearing on the question of the Venezuela Special Envoy Alex Saab’s status as a diplomat finally began December 12, 2022. The US government had him seized in Cape Verde two and a half years ago, June 12, 2020, in violation of his diplomatic immunity as guaranteed in the Geneva Convention. At present, a hearing - which occurs before a judge, who makes the determination, not before a jury, as in the case of a trial - is taking place in Miami over the question of Alex Saab’s status, which the US prosecutors dispute. If this were a simpy case of deciding if a person with a diplomatic passport, carrying a sealed official letter from one head of state to another head of state, were on a diplomatic mission, it would be a no-brainer.
The World Federation of Democratic Youth (WFDY) and its federating progressive youth groups across the world have intensified their campaign for the immediate release of Aleksander Kononovich and his brother Mikhail Kononovich, communist youths imprisoned by Ukrainian authorities. Both the Kononovich brothers belong to the leadership of the Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine (LKSMU), a member organization of the WFDY. The WFDY leadership also demanded an end to all deadly, imperialist wars raging across the world. November 21 marked 260 days since the arrest and imprisonment of the Kononovich brothers by the Security Services of Ukraine (SBU). Since November 11, WFDY and its federating youth groups worldwide have organized a week-long campaign and held protest demonstrations in front of Ukrainian embassies in various countries demanding the release of the Kononovich brothers.