US navy cruiser secretly sailing off Cape Verde, W. Africa

TEHRAN, Dec. 23 (MNA) – For the past month, the Navy cruiser San Jacinto had sailed off the West African island nation of Cape Verde on a secret mission aimed at helping deal a major blow to President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela.

As the New York Times reported, the mission was set in motion in early June, when Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman who is believed to be the architect of the economic deals of the Venezuelan government, was arrested in Cape Verde when his private plane stopped to refuel en route to Iran from Venezuela.

The United States sought his extradition under American money laundering charges, and judicial proceedings began.

With Esper out of the way, however, his replacement, Acting Defense Secretary Christopher C. Miller, a former White House counterterrorism aide, quickly approved the San Jacinto’s deployment from Norfolk, Va.

The ship sailed across the Atlantic to keep a close eye on the lone captive.

Last week, the San Jacinto got new orders: Head back to Norfolk to ensure the 393-member crew will be home for Christmas and other holidays.

In a statement at the time, Venezuelan foreign minister Jorge Arreaza said Saab had stopped in Cape Verde on a “necessary layover” on his way to “guarantee the obtainment” of food and medicine for Venezuela.

Arreaza condemned the detention, calling it an act “violating international norms and law” and saying that the Maduro government would do everything possible to protect “the human rights of Mr. Alex Saab.”

MNA/PR

News Code 167578

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