The United States is ramping up the targeting of its political foes, and going to great lengths to push for suspects to be extradited from the UK, Canada, and now even Cape Verde. But is it worth the hassle for rivals who don’t pose a direct threat to the US?
Washington is now calling on a small West African country to extradite a suspect who they say helped both Iran and Venezuela undermine US sanctions.
The island nation of Cape Verde has confirmed it will hold suspect Alex Saab for the next 40 days, after he was taken into custody on Friday. They say they are still waiting for a formal extradition request to be submitted by the US.
The Colombian business man was indicted by the US last year on federal money laundering charges. He stands accused of funneling $350 million dollars that was meant for the poor and hungry in Venezuela to overseas accounts. He has also been accused of helping Venezuela make deals with Iran to exchange gold for oil, despite crushing US sanctions on both countries.
The arrest has been met with heavy criticism from Venezuela, with the country’s foreign ministry arguing that Saab should be released because he was taken into a custody while on a business trip to Iran to obtain food and medicine for Venezuelans battling the coronavirus.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is facing his own battle with the US, and after months of Trump Administration officials increasing sanctions and pushing for the leader to be overthrown, the Justice Department charged Maduro with narco-terrorism and drug smuggling in March. The State Department then offered a reward of $15 million dollars for information leading to Maduro’s arrest.
Meanwhile, the US is also calling on Canada to extradite Huawei’s chief financial officer after she was arrested in December 2018. Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, stands accused of attempting to undermine US sanctions by pursuing business dealings in Iran.
But she is now fighting back, and arguing that the case should be dropped because the US abused the extradition process by presenting inaccurate and false evidence to the Canadian court.
In a statement, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry called the case a “political plot” targeting China and Huawei amid increased tensions with the US.
“The Chinese government is determined to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of its citizens and enterprises. We once again urge Canada to take our solemn position and concerns seriously, and immediately release Ms. Meng Wanzhou and ensure her safe return to China,” said Zhao Lijian.
Also facing extradition to the United States is WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange. The publisher, who stands accused of violating the Espionage Act, is currently being held in one of the UK’s strictest prisons, despite warnings from dozens of doctors that his health is in jeopardy.
But when it comes to political rivals abroad, the US has shown little mercy. Instead, it seems to use these figures as a symbol to the rest of the world, and to anyone who challenges US sanctions or policies.