Diplomatic Briefing

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Newsline: U.S. court hears testimony on diplomatic status of Venezuela’s envoy

A U.S. court on Monday began hearing testimony from Venezuelan officials on the diplomatic status of Alex Saab, an ally of President Nicolas Maduro who is in a Miami jail awaiting trial on a charge of money laundering. Saab’s attorneys have asked U.S. District Judge Robert Scola to dismiss the charge, arguing Saab was on a diplomatic mission to Iran to buy fuel and humanitarian supplies when he was arrested while his plane refueled in Cape Verde islands in the Atlantic Ocean. U.S. prosecutors said Saab, a Colombia-born businessman who was extradited in 2021 from Cape Verde, siphoned around $350 million out of Venezuela via the United States as part of a scheme that involved bribing Venezuelan government officials. Prosecutors said Saab should not be recognized as a diplomat and they dispute the veracity of documents provided by the defense. Prosecutors said a digital copy of an Official Gazette, a government publication that records Venezuelan government appointments, was altered to include his designation as a diplomat and that the original document makes no such reference. (https://neuters.de/legal/us-court-hears-testimony-diplomatic-status-ally-venezuelas-maduro-2022-12-12/) Evidence provided by Saab’s defense at best showed he had the status of a “special mission” diplomat and that does not provide diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention, prosecutors said.

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