The Venezuelan government is suspending talks with the US-backed opposition in Mexico City after the extradition on Saturday of an envoy of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro to the United States.
Jorge Rodriguez, head of the government’s negotiating team and member of the Socialist Party, said the country would not attend talks due to take place in Mexico on Saturday, Reuters reported.
Alex Saab, who faces money laundering charges, was extradited after being detained in Cape Verde in June 2020.
A senior US official confirmed the information to The Associated Press that Saab was on a Department of Justice chartered flight to the United States.
The money laundering charges Saab is facing are linked to an alleged corruption scheme in which it was involved that allowed it to use a social housing project in Venezuela to earn $ 350 million.
Although Cape Verde’s Constitutional Court approved the extradition in September, Venezuela and other allies such as Cuba and Russia have previously denounced the arrest as illegal, according to the PA.
“The government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela repudiates this serious violation of human rights against a Venezuelan citizen, invested as a diplomat and representative of our country before the world,” the Venezuelan government said in a statement, calling the extradition of ‘” removal “.
Rodriguez denounced the extradition and the charges, saying that the withdrawal from the negotiations was “the expression of our deepest protest against the brutal aggression against the person and the investiture of our delegate Alex Saab Moran”.
Saab has been on the US radar for years because they believe he knows how Maduro and others have made millions of dollars from government housing projects as Venezuelans struggle, the AP noted.
Saab has previously been sanctioned by the US government for allegedly using government-run food programs to form a corrupt network in order to make money, according to Reuters.
After Saab’s extradition was announced, two sources and family members told Reuters that Venezuela had placed six U.S. oil executives from Citigo under house arrest and it was unclear whether they would return to jail.
The Hill has contacted the Justice Department for comment.
Update: 9:14 p.m.