Anger as Miami judge rules against freedom for Alex Saab
Miami, FL – A Miami judge ruled against freedom for Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab on December 24. In a two-week-long hearing to determine Saab’s diplomatic status and his right to immunity from prosecution, Saab’s defense team presented stacks of evidence proving his status as a special envoy. The defense even used documents from the U.S. government provided by the federal prosecutor, Alex Kramer, that stated as much. None of this made a difference to U.S. District Judge Robert Scola.
In his ruling, Judge Scola wrote, “Saab Moran cannot be entitled to diplomatic immunity because he could not – as a matter of law – have been an agent of the Venezuelan government. At the time of his arrest, Saab Moran was, at best, a special envoy of the Maduro regime, which the United States has not recognized to be the official government of Venezuela since January 2019. So, Saab Moran is not entitled to diplomatic immunity in the United States.”
Tom Burke with the Campaign to Free Alex Saab said, “It is clear the White House and State Department are criminalizing the Venezuelan diplomat responsible for defeating U.S. sanctions. Alex Saab made big trade deals that brought food, medicine, oil industry machine parts, and other materials to Venezuela in exchange for oil and gold. Saab defeated every U.S. effort to strangle the Venezuelan economy. Saab helped to advance the Bolivarian revolution, benefiting all the working people and their children, and U.S. leaders aren't happy about that.”
Cassia Laham, a Miami anti-war activist, said, “The U.S. government’s legal arguments were weak and pathetic. In any other court, in any other country, Alex Saab would have walked free. The judge's ruling proved the political nature of this case and of Saab's kidnapping. The U.S. deems Venezuela a ‘national security threat’ simply because it takes care of its own people without bowing to the dictates of U.S. imperialism. And this can only be done with the help of heroes like Alex Saab.”
In June of 2020, the U.S. government blocked Alex Saab’s plane, which was in route to Iran, forcing it to land in Cape Verde. Saab was on his way to Iran on behalf of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to secure resources and humanitarian goods for the people of Venezuela. Then it asked Cape Verde's government to arrest Saab and detain him. The next day an Interpol arrest warrant suddenly appeared. U.S. intelligence agents rifled through Saab’s belongings and opened his Venezuelan government diplomatic pouch and sealed documents, an outrage to diplomats everywhere.
Then, in October 2021, the U.S. renditioned Saab to Miami, Florida despite there being no extradition treaty between the United States and Cape Verde. This occurred one day before an election in Cape Verde where the leading candidate promised to release Saab if elected.
Since then, Saab's defense team has tried challenge this illegal farce by proving his status as a diplomat. All indications are that Judge Scola’s ruling was a foregone conclusion discussed at the highest levels of the Biden White House and Antony Blinken's State Department.
There will be an appeal from Alex Saab’s defense team, including the thorough fact-based defense arguments of Jonathan New. This, though, will force Alex Saab to sit in a Miami prison cell for many weeks, perhaps months longer than the 900 days the U.S. has already detained him.
Laham said, “Alex Saab is being punished by the U.S. empire because he was successful at beating U.S. sanctions. He is one of many political prisoners being held in U.S. prisons and we know he will not find justice inside a U.S. courtroom.”