BOGOTA, Colombia

A court in Cape Verde on Wednesday granted a request to extradite Colombian businessman Alex Saab to the US, where he faces money laundering charges in connection with an alleged corruption deal to develop low-income housing for the Venezuelan government that was never built.  

The Cape Verde Supreme Court “confirms the judicial authorization for the extradition of the defendant to the US,” the ruling said. 

The Supreme Court rejected the appeal of Saab’s defense and confirmed the decision of a lower court to approve his extradition.

Saab, often described as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s front man, was arrested while travelling from Caracas to Tehran in June 2020 when his plane made a refueling stop on Cape Verde. 

The ruling comes two days after a regional court in Nigeria ordered Cape Verde to free Saab and halt extradition proceedings, arguing that the authorities carried out the arrest before Interpol issued a Red Notice. The judge described Saab’s arrest as illegal and said he should be released and paid $200,000 for unlawful detention. 

Femi Falana, who led Saab’s defense, said the ruling of the court in Nigeria, which demanded his immediate release, “cannot be ignored” by Cape Verde. Saab plans to appeal the Supreme Court’s decision, said Falana. 

Saab’s lawyers have said that he should not be considered a fugitive fleeing from justice in the US because the Venezuelan government identified him as a diplomat on a “humanitarian mission” to Iran. ​​​​​​​ 

Saab, who has Venezuelan citizenship, has said he will not cooperate with US authorities.

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