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An international delegation made up of four individuals arrived in Cape Verde Thursday with the prospect of meeting with the authorities to ask for the release of Venezuelan Alex Saab.
The delegation comprises Cape Verdean religious leader Dom Felipe Teixeira, Cape Verdean politician Péricles Tavares and human rights activist Sara Flounders from the International Action Centre, and Roger Harris, from the Task Force in the Americas.
Speaking to Inforpress, Dom Felipe Teixeira, who heads the group, explained that the purpose of the trip is "humanitarian," because Alex Saab "has been illegally detained for almost a year under inhuman and degrading conditions," and was "subject to physical torture and psychological and suffered a significant weight loss."
According to the same source, the purpose of the trip is also “to put pressure on the authorities to ensure compliance with the rule of law for which Cape Verde has become known."
In Cape Verde, the group intends to meet with the President of the Republic, the prime minister, the minister of Justice, and the president of the National Human Rights Commission, among other authorities.
Asked by Inforpress if the trip is sponsored by the Government of Venezuela, which has been fighting for the release of Alex Saab, Dom Filipe Teixeira explained that the visit is a response to spontaneous expressions of support from the community and union members, but that “Venezuela does not sponsor it."
“Our visit is an initiative of our own, and it must be understood that the members of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union and the United Steel Workers Union have always had the greatest respect for President Maduro, who was once a bus driver like them,” he reacted, defending that when he made a stopover in Cape Verde, Alex Saab was engaged in a “humanitarian mission to help ordinary men, women and children in Venezuela” at a time of “tremendous difficulties” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dom Filipe Teixeira said that the humanitarian mission hopes that the Cape Verdean authorities will provide them with the opportunity for dialogue and discussion.
Short interview with Bishop Teixeira in Lisbon Portugal, Humberto Delgad. The Cape Verdean Bishop leads a delegation to call for the release of Alex Saab who has been unjustly imprisoned and is kept in inhumane conditions. ... https://t.co/zZl4vYYETU via @YouTube
“We hope Cape Verde will respect the ruling of the Court of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but also respect its good reputation, which has been built over many decades since independence,” he appealed.
Alex Saab, 49 years old, considered by the United States as a frontman for Nicolás Maduro, was detained in June 2020 by Interpol and Cape Verdean authorities, during a technical stopover at Amílcar Cabral International Airport, on the island of Sal, based on an international arrest warrant issued by the United States while returning from a trip to Iran on behalf of Venezuela.
The Barlavento Court of Appeal has already ruled twice – the last time in January, both with an appeal from the defense – on the extradition of Alex Saab to the United States. But the detention was classified by the Venezuelan government as “arbitrary” and a “violation of international law and norms,” as were the “actions of aggression and encirclement against the Venezuelan people, undertaken by the Government of the United States of America."
For several years, Saab had been wanted by the U.S. authorities, according to them, suspected of accumulating numerous contracts, of illegal origin, with the Venezuelan government of Nicolás Maduro. In 2019, federal prosecutors in Miami indicted Alex Saab and a partner on money laundering charges related to an alleged bribery scheme to develop low-income housing for the Venezuelan government.