Venezuela seeks arrest of three US residents over failed attempt to remove Maduro from power

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Venezuela’s chief prosecutor has ordered the arrest of a former US soldier and two opposition figures living in the US for their alleged role in a botched operation aimed at removing Nicolas Maduro from power.

Tarek William Saab said Venezuela will seek the capture of Jordan Goudreau, a military veteran who has claimed responsibility for the attack. Saab has also ordered the arrest of Juan Jose Rendon and Sergio Vergara, two US-based advisers to opposition leader Juan Guaido.

“They are living in impunity,” Saab said. “In tranquillity over there [in the US]”.

US law enforcement is investigating Goudreau, though it remains unclear if he will be charged.

VenezuelaA video of American Airon Berry was shown on Venezuelan TV (Venezuela’s Ministry of Communication press office via AP)

Donald Trump does not recognise Maduro’s government, making it highly unlikely that his administration would accept any extradition request.

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The Trump administration has denied all responsibility for the armed raid. The raid also resulted in the arrests of two Americans, Luke Denman and Airan Berry. Both were purportedly hired by Goudreau’s private firm to participate in the failed assault.

In an interview with Fox News Channel on Friday, Trump said he “didn’t know too much” about the attack and again denied any US government involvement. He said:

It wasn’t led by General George Washington, obviously… this was not a good attack.

US and opposition involvement

Venezuelan authorities have been insisting that Trump’s government was behind the plot. Saab noted on 8 May that the US had previously offered a $15m bounty for Maduro’s arrest, which he said opened the door for such attacks:

That gives a green light for an incursion into our territory

Denman and Berry are both former US special forces soldiers who served in Iraq. In video statements aired on Venezuela’s state television, both said they’d been hired by Goudreau to train rebel troops in Colombia and target Maduro. Goudreau has said they were part of his operation.

Juan Jose Rendon, US-based adviser to opposition leader Guaidó, has acknowledged giving Goudreau $50k to cover some expenses. Rendon also said that he and another adviser Sergio Vergara signed an agreement with Goudreau.

Meanwhile, Goudreau has presented what he said is an audio recording made on a hidden mobile phone. On the recording, Guaidó can be heard briefly greeting the combat veteran via video conference.

Guaidó, who’s recognised by the US and about 60 other nations as Venezuela’s rightful president, has denied any involvement in the operation.

Saab said Venezuela is issuing 22 new arrest orders but did not mention Guaidó among them.

Featured image via President of Russia

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