Will Maduro’s Canary Sing?

Nicolás Maduro, speaks during the opening ceremony of the Judicial Year 2021, today at the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) in Caracas (Venezuela).

 

Some 3,500 miles from Washington, on the African archipelago of Cape Verde, the Justice Department is in a struggle with Venezuela over a U.S. extradition request for Alex Saab.

By María Anastasia O’Grady / WSJ

The Colombian-born naturalized Venezuelan works for the dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro. The regime calls Mr. Saab a diplomat, but a federal grand jury has indicted him for money laundering. Interpol arrested him in June as his plane was refueling on a trip to Iran.

The lengths to which Caracas is going to win Mr. Saab’s release merit attention. It has hired a crack legal team, led by Baltasar Garzón, a controversial Spanish former judge. The U.S. has so far won in court, but the case is on appeal. Mr. Garzón argues that Mr. Saab is not only innocent but protected by diplomatic immunity.

It’s doubtful that Venezuela’s herculean effort to defeat the extradition is explained by concerns for the future of the detained Maduro henchman.

More likely it’s because, as an intermediary in regime business dealings, Mr. Saab may be intimately familiar with how Venezuelan wealth has been siphoned off to enrich the Maduro nomenklatura. If Mr. Saab finds himself plea-bargaining in America, he may be inclined to share that information with U.S. law enforcement, which might then make it public.

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