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News > Venezuela

UN Experts Call for the Release of Venezuelan Diplomat Saab

  • The graffiti reads,

    The graffiti reads, "Freedom for diplomat Alex Saab kidnapped by the Empire," | Photo: X/ @pressenza

Published 27 September 2023

They also criticized the conditions of Alex Saab's captivity at the Federal Detention Center in Miami.

In a statement released on Wednesday, two United Nations human rights experts called on the United States to "end the prolonged pretrial detention" of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who has been held in Miami since 2021 and is accused of money laundering.


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Alena Douhan, the UN Special Rapporteur on Sanctions, and Livingstone Sewanyana, Special Rapporteur on International Order, regret that "almost two years after his extradition, he continues to be detained awaiting trial for alleged conduct that should not have fallen under extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction."

In 2018, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro appointed businessman Saab as a special envoy for official missions in Iran, aimed at ensuring the humanitarian delivery of food and medicine to the South American country.

In July 2019, the United States imposed sanctions on Saab for alleged involvement in transactions or programs administered by the Venezuelan government.

In 2020, diplomat Saab was detained in Cape Verde while making a stopover during a third trip to Iran. Subsequently, in 2021, he was extradited to the United States.

The experts today denounced "alleged irregularities in relation to Saab's arrest and detention" in the African archipelago before his extradition to the United States.

Among these irregularities is the absence of Interpol notifications or arrest warrants, as these were issued retroactively.

"The actions against Saab constitute a violation of his human rights, such as the right not to be arbitrarily detained, the presumption of innocence, and the guarantees of a fair trial," stated the two rapporteurs.

"They also constitute a violation of the right to an adequate standard of living for millions of Venezuelans, as a result of the abrupt disruption of his mission to acquire essential goods."

The UN experts criticized the conditions of Saab's captivity at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, "in deficient detention conditions, including poor-quality food and inadequate medical treatment, which are negatively impacting his health."

"We urge the United States to fulfill its obligations under international law, immediately release Saab, and drop all charges against him," they concluded.

The United States accuses Saab of conspiring to launder the proceeds of a corruption network fueled by bribes aimed at obtaining contracts for public projects.

He is also accused of fraud in Venezuela's foreign exchange control system, a crime for which he could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison.

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