The Biden administration has reportedly facilitated the release of Alex Saab, a close ally of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, as part of a swap for jailed Americans, according to information obtained by The Associated Press.

Alex Saab had been arrested in 2020 on a U.S. warrant related to charges of money laundering. His release from custody occurred on Wednesday. In return for Saab’s release, it is understood that President Maduro will free some, if not all, of the at least 10 U.S. citizens who are currently held in detention in Venezuela. The details were provided by an individual familiar with the situation, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on the condition of anonymity.

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Who is Alex Saab?

Alex Saab is a Venezuelan businessman and diplomat who gained international attention due to his arrest in June 2021. He was detained in Cape Verde while on his way to Iran and has since been at the center of a legal and diplomatic controversy.

Alex Saab, born in 1971, was a close associate of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. He served as a special envoy and diplomatic envoy for Venezuela, engaging in various missions, including efforts to secure goods for the Venezuelan government.

Saab’s arrest was made at the request of the United States, which had issued an arrest warrant for him on charges related to money laundering and corruption. The U.S. authorities accused him of being involved in a scheme to embezzle funds from Venezuela’s government through fraudulent food import contracts. Saab’s defense team and the Venezuelan government argued that he had diplomatic immunity, given his status as a special envoy.

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The legal battle over Saab’s extradition to the United States unfolded in Cape Verde, where courts grappled with the complex issues surrounding diplomatic immunity and international law. His arrest and the subsequent legal proceedings further heightened tensions between the Venezuelan government and the international community.