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. All were concerned about the dangerous precedent that had been created, in violation of the Vienna Statute, and the evident gesture of arrogance of the “gendarme of the world” towards the Venezuelan people: “guilty” of having chosen their own political destiny, voting for Bolivarian socialism for 22 years.
At that time, in effect, the blockade of Venezuela and a multiform attack against the country was at its height, with the imposition of illegal unilateral coercive measures, aimed at “causing maximum suffering to the people” (as US administration officials claimed), and provoking a revolt against the Maduro government. In fact, Alex Saab’s “fault” had been to have circumvented the sanctions to bring medicines, food and other basic necessities to Venezuela.
“I will face the process with dignity,” wrote the diplomat to his wife, Camilla Fabri, who read the letter aloud during a solidarity demonstration in Venezuela.
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“I want to make it clear that I have nothing to collaborate with the United States, since I have not committed any crime,” he added. “I declare to be in full use of my mental faculties, that I have no suicidal intentions, in case they want to kill me and then say that I committed suicide.”
Since then, there have been demonstrations in support and solidarity in several countries around the world, thanks to the international Free Alex Saab movement, coordinated by Venezuelan lawyer Laila Tajeldine, who was interviewed by Geraldina Colotti.
Advocate Tajeldine, rumors have spread about a possible release of diplomat Alex Saab, who could be exchanged with some Americans, detained in Venezuelan prisons for terrorism or espionage. Is this true?
There are rumors that we have heard, but it is not something that at this level we can affirm or deny. What is true is that recently there was a status hearing on the trial, regarding the diplomatic immunity of Venezuelan Special Envoy Alex Saab, and the active role of the US Department of Justice in delaying the trial and lengthening the process was verified. Also, in that status hearing it was revealed that the defense of Alex Saab has requested the Department of Justice since November 2021 to deliver classified documents on the Venezuelan diplomat and that the Department has refused to deliver them. Such evidence is definitive to exonerate Alex Saab because it proves both, that Alex is a diplomat and that the criminal case was a vile set-up.
What is the current legal situation of Alex Saab?
Regarding legal matters, the judge in charge of the case gave a time limit to the US Department of Justice to present the evidence that it has refused to present, evidence that proves the innocence of Venezuelan Diplomat Alex Saab. The hearing of the trial on diplomatic immunity has been set for October 31.
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What we all hope is that there are still people in the US courts who want to preserve the credibility of the US justice system and the rule of law and release Alex Saab immediately, although we are not fooling ourselves because we are clear that the case of Alex Saab is purely political, and when he was arrested it was to stop the entry of medicines and fuel to Venezuela, and now it is used as an instrument of blackmail, perhaps the United States even sees it as a tool to get out of jail its confessed hitmen and thieves sentenced by the Venezuelan justice system.
A hearing was scheduled for the end of August. Why was it postponed?
Because of the lack of compliance of the US Department of Justice and its refusal to present the requested documents, the August 29 hearing was postponed to October 31. The Department of Justice and the Court itself have shown no willingness to do justice; on the contrary, they continue to serve the political motive of the United States, which is nothing but to destabilize Venezuela, even when that means violating one of the norms that no country has ever dared to violate, the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
You coordinate the Free Alex Saab international solidarity movement. What sort of response have you found?
It is impressive how, as time goes by, the condemnation of the kidnapping of Alex Saab is growing and there is a tremendous solidarity, not only from governments, but also from peoples and movements. The Free Alex Saab Movement has been formed in many parts of the world and it is growing. Every day we are approached by human rights organizations, important figures in the political, legal, academic and artistic sectors, that want to know how we can work together. This solidarity does not stop growing and neither does the condemnation of the vile action of the United States, because we are talking about something that two years ago no one would have imagined, that the United States dared to kidnap a Venezuelan diplomatic official, with diplomatic immunity, who was traveling to perform a humanitarian task.
(Resumen Latinoamericano) by Geraldina Colotti
Translation: Orinoco Tribune
Geraldina Colotti was born in Ventimiglia and has lived in Paris for a long time. She served a 27-year sentence for her militancy in the Red Brigades. Colotti is a journalist and writer, an expert in Latin America, and in charge of the Italian edition of "Le Monde Diplomatique".
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