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Miami hearing for Alex Saab postponed to Feb. 16

By Jim Byrne

Miami, FL – The hearing for Alex Saab, the Venezuelan diplomat being detained by the U.S. government, is postponed to February 16 in Miami, Florida. The delays in his case only benefit the U.S. government. Saab’s lawyers are seeking a ruling on his diplomatic immunity that will end his illegal detention.

Saab is a unique man who has again and again outsmarted U.S. attempts to punish Venezuela through economic sanctions. The U.S. sanctions aim to shut down sections of the Venezuelan economy – the oil industry, mining and mineral sectors, as well as causing havoc to the water and electricity systems. However, Saab’s international deal-making has frustrated U.S. plans again and again.

Saab is the Venezuelan government’s diplomat who trades Venezuelan oil and minerals for material inputs, machines and replacement parts for a productive and growing economy in Venezuela. Despite U.S. Navy patrols, ships from Iran with much needed oil-refining chemicals and machine parts are arriving at Venezuelan ports. Thus, oil production is back online and reached historic highs in December. Many economists are predicting stabilization, and now growth of over 7% for Venezuela in 2022.

This latest delay in Saab’s 20-month ordeal as a political prisoner is in part due to the Omicron variant of COVID. The Omicron variant is ravaging the U.S. while the Biden administration dithers. The hospital system is overloaded as infection rates soar higher than ever, and American death rates are climbing towards 1 million in the new year. Like millions of other prisoners in the U.S., Saab’s health is at risk in the Miami federal prison.

Originally, the U.S. government bullied Cape Verde, an island country off the coast of Africa, to seize and detain Alex Saab off of a private flight that was refueling on June 12, 2020. Then as a new government in Cape Verde committed to release him, the U.S. forced Saab on to a flight that arrived in Miami, Florida on October 16, 2021. The U.S. ignored court rulings and international law in this process, essentially kidnapping another country’s diplomat.

Once in Miami, Saab faced trial on eight counts, but the U.S. government dropped seven of those due to an agreement with Cape Verde. This leaves only a conspiracy to launder money charge. This charge will be difficult to defend against, given the use of DEA informants and behind the scenes deals by U.S. prosecutors with those who fled criminal charges and justice in Venezuela.

The Committee to Stop FBI Repression (CSFR) is one of many groups protesting Saab’s prosecution by the Biden administration. Tom Burke, speaking for the CSFR said, “We denounce this sham trial as an outrageous act of aggression against the sovereign Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. This U.S. kidnapping of a Venezuelan diplomat shows the U.S. empire’s efforts to harass and sanction Venezuela knows no bounds. We will not let this outrage stand. We will protest together in solidarity outside the courts in Miami, Florida and send a message to the Biden White House and U.S. State Department. Free Alex Saab now! See you on February 16 at the courthouse in Miami.”

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