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The Outrageous Facts of the Alex Saab Case

Caleb T. Maupin

Oct 23, 2021

Alex Saab was transported from Cape Verde to the United States on October 16th. He has been charged with money laundering in US Federal Court and is being held in Miami. He had been in Cape Verde since local authorities pulled him off a plane destined for Iran.On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Caracas to support a man who was trying to arrange for food to reach Venezuela. Protests took place across the hemisphere, as far away as Times Square in New York City.

Despite the international outcry, US media remains largely silent about the case. Aside from an article here and there, the mainstream voices in the US are trying to avoid drawing attention to the case. Why? Because of the outrageous facts of the case. A basic overview of the facts lays out how blatantly illegal the actions of US and Cape Verde authorities have been throughout the process.

First, Alex Saab is a diplomat representing Venezuela with a diplomatic passport. Pulling him off an international flight on June 12, 2020 violates a number of international agreements and norms. Diplomatic immunity should apply. Five different UN Special Rapporteurs, United Nations Human Rights Committee, the Justice Court of the Economic Community of West African States and a UN working group have condemned Cape Verde for detaining Saab at the behest of the United States.

On October 16th, Saab was taken from the home where he was staying in house arrest. His defense team was never informed that he was being handed over to US authorities and transported to the USA. Throughout his time in Cape Verde, Saab’s defense team was sabotaged by local officials who moved him to different facilities and otherwise denied them access to their client. It was made extremely difficult for Saab’s relatives to visit him, and a number of official letters from the Venezuelan embassy were simply ignored.

The allegation is that somehow Saab was working to arrange for food and medicine to be purchased from Iran and sent to Venezuela, doing so in violation of US sanctions. US Federal Courts have no jurisdiction in Iran or Venezuela. Meanwhile, the blocking of humanitarian supplies is a blatant violation of international law.

The precedent being set by Alex Saab’s case is massive. In essence, US officials are declaring their right to detain and prosecute anyone, anywhere in the world, who does business with a government they unilaterally choose to sanction.

With Alex Saab now in Miami, many international voices and legal experts are raising the alarm about a case that could change the nature of global trade and international human rights for decades to come.

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