Detained American tells Venezuela state TV he plotted Maduro’s capture

CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan state tv broadcast on Wednesday a video of captured American Luke Denman, by which he mentioned he was instructed to grab management of Caracas’ airport and usher in a airplane to fly President Nicolas Maduro to the United States.

Venezuelan authorities on Monday arrested Denman, one other U.S. citizen Airan Berry, and 11 different “terrorists” in what Maduro has known as a failed plot coordinated with Washington to enter the nation through the Caribbean coast and oust him.

“Donald Trump is the direct chief of this invasion,” Maduro mentioned throughout a televised digital press convention, after the video of Denman was broadcast.

U.S. President Donald Trump has denied involvement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned on Wednesday that the U.S. authorities would use “every tool” to safe the Americans return, in the event that they had been being held in Venezuela.

Denman, 34, within the video from an undisclosed location, answered questions from an individual off-camera talking in English. Denman mentioned his mission was to safe the airport and set up outer safety, although it was unclear how they deliberate to get Maduro on a airplane.

In March, the U.S. Department of Justice charged Maduro and a dozen different present and former Venezuelan officers with “narco-terrorism” and the Trump administration provided a reward of $15 million for info resulting in his arrest.

“I was helping Venezuelans take back control of their country,” Denman, a former particular operations forces member, mentioned within the video.

Denman mentioned he and Berry had been contracted by Jordan Goudreau, an American army veteran who leads a Florida-based safety firm known as Silvercorp USA, to coach about 50 Venezuelans in Colombia in January for the operation. Goudreau equipped the group with tools, Denman mentioned.

Venezuelan authorities mentioned they arrested the group by the remoted coastal city of Chuao, about 60 kilometers (40 miles) west of Caracas’ airport, after locals raised suspicions. Authorities printed images of what they mentioned was the group’s boat, loaded with ammunition, weapons and communication tools.

Eight folks concerned in the identical operation had been killed on Sunday in La Guaira state, close to Caracas, Maduro’s authorities mentioned.

Maduro had initially mentioned he would present movies of the 2, however didn’t find yourself displaying a video of Berry.

Denman mentioned Silvercorp had signed a contract with Venezuelan opposition chief Juan Guaido to hunt Maduro’s elimination. Guaido’s crew, in an announcement, mentioned that they had “no relationship with any company in the security and defense branch,” together with Silvercorp.

Venezuela would search the Goudreau’s extradition, Maduro mentioned. Goudreau has confirmed his function within the operation, and couldn’t be instantly reached for touch upon Wednesday.

Maduro mentioned that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, through drug cartels, had been the “operational and logistical part of this conspiracy.”

A DEA spokeswoman mentioned the DEA had no involvement within the occasions.

After Denman’s televised assertion, a U.S. State Department spokesman reiterated that the U.S. authorities had nothing to do with the incident. The official declined touch upon Denman’s claims.

Additional reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Angus Berwick; Editing by Marguerita Choy

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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