A most egregious abuse of state power you’ve never heard of
- Forced plane landing, a deployed gunboat, and ignoring rulings by UN Human Rights Committee and a regional African court – no wonder you don’t read about the US extradition case against Venezuelan envoy Alex Saab in mainstream English-language press
Since June last year, Venezuela’s special envoy, Alex Saab, has been fighting extradition to the United States while being detained with untreated cancer in the island nation of Cabo Verde, off the coast of West Africa. Under apparent pressure from the US, neighbouring African countries denied landing to his plane and forced it to refuel on the archipelago where he was arrested.
A trusted fixer of President Nicolas Maduro, he was en route to Tehran, reportedly to barter Venezuelan gold for Iranian gasoline. Both countries are under crippling unilateral American sanctions.
The US has charged Saab with money laundering. Last week, the United Nations’ Human Rights Committee issued a decision demanding that Saab’s extradition be suspended and that he be given proper medical treatment. This follows another decision by the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice, based in Nigeria, to free him in March.
The Republic of Cabo Verde doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the US. Instead, it claims it was responding to an Interpol arrest notice but the notice was only issued after Saab’s arrest. Cabo Verde’s own court has ruled that Saab can be extradited, an order currently being appealed by his legal team. The US Navy has stationed the cruiser USS San Jacinto off the island state since December, ostensibly in response to Venezuela’s threat to rescue Saab. But it looks more like intimidation to make sure Cabo Verde doesn’t get cold feet and release Saab.