USA: Saab asks to dismiss charges he faces and release him

    USA: Saab asks to dismiss charges he faces and release him

    MIAMI ( Associated Press) — Businessman Alex Saab, whom the United States considers a key ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, has asked a federal court in South Florida to dismiss the money laundering charges he faces and order his immediate release under the allegation that he was illegally “kidnapped” while traveling as a diplomat to Iran.

    It is a new motion filed Monday night in which Saab took up allegations he has previously made in an attempt to show that he enjoyed diplomatic immunity at the time of his arrest and therefore cannot face charges in the United States. Joined.

    This time, however, his request is accompanied by numerous written testimonies and documents as evidence, including, among others, copies of the alleged diplomatic passport and letters sent by the Maduro government to the United States. The defense seeks to demonstrate with them that Saab’s detention in Cape Verde in June 2020 was illegal and that the United States knew at the time that the Colombian businessman was a diplomat from Venezuela.

    “The facts show without a doubt that Mr. Saab was a special envoy to Iran on behalf of Venezuela and the only question that remains is legal, and not factual, and it is this: Did Mr. Saab have diplomatic immunity when he was traveling to Iran? ?” said the businessman’s lawyers in the 39-page motion. “The answer to this question is indisputably ‘yes,’” they continued.

    Saab, whom Washington considers Maduro’s figurehead, was extradited from Cape Verde to face charges of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars from corrupt deals he obtained by paying bribes to Venezuelan officials in exchange for home construction contracts. economic.

    The businessman pleaded not guilty. He initially faced eight charges, but the prosecution withdrew seven of them as part of a deal sealed with Cape Verde for his extradition. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison.

    Saab alleges that he was on a humanitarian mission en route to Iran when his plane stopped in Cape Verde to refuel. His lawyers assure that the United States knew that he was heading for those negotiations and that he had been notified of his immunity through diplomatic channels and by Interpol itself.

    “The court should dismiss the accusations and order the immediate release of Mr. Saab so that he can continue with his mission to Iran or return to Venezuela” to be given further instructions on that mission, the businessman’s lawyers requested in the document that appears in the online file.

    The prosecution has denied that the government knew of the alleged diplomatic status at the time of the arrest and has resisted handing over documents from the State Department requested by Saab in which it would be evidence that it did have that information.


    Associated Press reporter Joshua Goodman contributed this information.

    Associated Press

    Conocé The Trust Project



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