October 18, 2021
Once again, U.S. imperialism revealed its outlaw nature by resorting to kidnapping and extraordinary rendition (reminiscent of its similar illegal actions in Afghanistan and Iraq) of Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, for trying to buy humanitarian supplies for Venezuela — a fully legal act according to international law, but one that defied illegal U.S. sanctions on that country.
Venezuela is among some three dozen nations illegally sanctioned by the U.S. for striving to chart its own future. Venezuelan people are dying from lack of medicine and starving from lack of food due to those sanctions. Over 100,000 Venezuelans have perished.
Alex Saab had been imprisoned in Cabo Verde on orders of the U.S. since June 12, 2020. He had been on a flight from Caracas to Tehran, when his plane was diverted for a fueling stop to the small West African country. There he was seized and held under tortuous conditions. Egregiously, the Venezuelan diplomat was then illegally “extradited” to the U.S. on October 16 in what amounts to a kidnapping.
This kidnapping of a diplomat raises dangerous precedents in terms of extraterritorial judicial abuse by the U.S. in enforcing its unilateral coercive measures. Under the Vienna Convention, a credentialed diplomat such as Alex Saab has absolute immunity from arrest, even in the time of war. Mr. Saab has also appealed to the U.S. 11th Circuit Court on the basis of his diplomatic status. In response, Washington filed an application for an extension to reply in a legal delaying tactic to allow Saab’s extradition without recognizing his diplomatic immunity.
In committing this violation of international law, the Biden Administration showed that it is seamlessly following Trump and Obama administrations before him, by justifying the illegal sanctions on the incredulous grounds that Venezuela poses an “extraordinary threat” to the national security of the U.S. But, as Forbes has revealed, the real reason the U.S. is persecuting Alex Saab is because he is “the key that unlocks the Venezuelan monetary mystery—that is, how a country facing sanctions from the U.S., the U.K. and the European Union—is still able to export things like gold and oil ... and really the only man who can actually explain how the country [Venezuela] survives today.”
In other words, the U.S. has kidnapped Saab to use whatever means necessary to extract sensitive information from him. Saab had already reported that his surrogate captors in Cabo Verde had unsuccessfully employed torture to try to break his will and induce him to betray Venezuela. But, in a defiant letter from Mr. Saab, read by his wife at a protest rally in Caracas, he declared: "I will face my trial with total dignity. I want to be clear: I do not have to collaborate with the United States. I have committed no crime."
The United Nations has repeatedly condemned the use of unilateral coercive measures as a violation of international law. The UN Human Rights Committee has explicitly demanded the release of Alex Saab. The regional Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) Court, which has legal jurisdiction over Cabo Verde, where Saab was imprisoned, demanded the diplomat’s release and payment to him of compensation. Washington “extradited” Alex Saab because he has been instrumental in circumventing the illegal blockade of a country targeted by the U.S. for regime change. The U.S. Peace Council condemns this blatant violation of international law by the United States and demands Mr. Saab’s immediate release.
For further information on the Campaign to Free Alex Saab see