Cornel West Statement Demands the Immediate Release of Alex Saab

October 11, 2022 FREE ALEX SAAB

Dear Friends, Brothers and Sisters

A year ago, October 16, 2021, a grave injusJce was perpetrated. The long arm of US injustice abducted Venezuelan Special Envoy Alex Saab and threw him into prison in Miami, where he has languished ever since.

In a personal letter I received from Special Envoy Saab on October 4, he urged “We must become the light that illuminates the way forward. In life, it is never too late to do the right thing and it is never too late to leave behind the failed policies of the past.” The right thing, in this case, is to free Alex Saab and end also the inhumane illegal economic sanctions against his country.

Back in June 2020, Special Envoy Saab was on a humanitarian mission to procure urgently needed food, fuel, and medicine for the people of Venezuela who had been suffering from an unconscionable politically motivated blockade of their country. The US had imposed unilateral coercive measures – a form of collective punishment illegal under international law – on Venezuela, to make conditions so unbearable that the people would turn against their democratically elected government, which had fallen into disfavor with Washington.

Alex Saab’s flight from Caracas to Tehran was diverted to the Republic of Cape Verde, off the coast of West Africa, for a refueling stop. At the behest of the US, Mr. Saab was seized and imprisoned without due process.

Not only was the US-initiated Interpol “red alert” warrant been issued a`er his arrest, but as a credentialed Special Envoy to Iran and Deputy Ambassador to the African Union, Alex Saab was entitled to protection from apprehension. Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, to which the US is a party, he is immune from arrest and detention, even in time of war.

To the eternal shame of Cape Verde, Special Envoy Saab was imprisoned in squalid conditions and subjected to torture throughout his time there. Cape Verde, under pressure from the US, twice disregarded orders from the Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice to free the diplomat, even though Cape Verde was supposedly bound by the Court’s decision. Likewise, instructions from the United Nations Human Rights Committee to free him were ignored by Cape Verde.

Then a year ago, the diplomat was again kidnapped, this time directly by the US, and flown to Miami, without notifying his legal team or family and without the legal process in Cape Verde having been completed.

The US initially charged Special Envoy Saab with seven counts of money laundering and one of conspiracy to launder money but, given the absolute lack of evidence to support the former, the US dropped those charges leaving just the conspiracy charge. The conspiracy charge being the one that even a first year law student should be able to prosecute successfully.

I note that the National Lawyers Guild International Committee has called for “the immediate release of Venezuelan Special Envoy Alex Saab, imprisoned in a Miami federal prison by the United States in a violation of diplomatic norms and protections.” And there is a growing international movement motivated by the legal and moral imperative to correct this injustice.

Special Envoy Saab’s brave wife Camila Fabri Saab and their children who have not seen him for over two years. Camilla recently noted: “The kidnapping of Alex Saab is part of an attack against Venezuela and seeks to teach a lesson to anyone who has the courage to defend their country’s sovereignty.”

I hope and pray for justice and Alex Saab’s speedy release.

Cornell West

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