Venezuela seeks arrest of three US residents over role in failed attack

Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela thwarts 3 attackers
Nicolas Maduro

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, as well as Juan Jose Rendon and Sergio Vergara, two US-based advisers to opposition leader Juan Guaido.

They are living in impunity,” Mr Saab said. “In tranquillity over there.”

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

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

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

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

It wasn’t led by General George Washington, obviously,” he said. “This was not a good attack.”

Venezuelan authorities have been insisting that Trump’s government was behind the plot, with Mr Saab noting Friday that the US had previously offered a 15 million dollar bounty for Mr Maduro’s arrest, which he said opened the door for such attacks.

That gives a green light for an incursion into our territory,” he said.

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 had been hired by Goudreau to train rebel troops in Colombia and target Mr Maduro. Goudreau has said they were part of his operation.

Rendon has acknowledged giving Goudreau 50,000 dollars to cover some expenses and said that he and Vergara signed an agreement with the three-time Bronze Star recipient.

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

The opposition leader 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 and did not mention Guaidó among them.

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