Venezuela: Maduro Sentences U.S. Citizens to 20 Years in Prison over Botched Attack

CARACAS, VENEZUELA - MARCH 12: President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro speaks during a press conference at Miraflores Government Palace on March 12, 2020 in Caracas, Venezuela. Maduro announced a travel ban for travelers flying in from Europe and Colombia and restricted gatherings and massive events in an attempt to stem …
Carolina Cabral/Getty Images

A socialist court in Venezuela sentenced two former U.S. Special Forces officers to 20 years in prison this weekend for their alleged role in a failed attempt at toppling Nicolás Maduro.

Regime Attorney General William Tarek Saab announced the sentence, claiming both Luke Denman and Airan Berry had “taken responsibility for their actions.”

“The said gentleman admitted to having committed crimes of conspiracy, association, and illicit trafficking of weapons of war and terrorism outlined in the Penal Code, for which they were sentenced to imprisonment for 20 years, [sic] months and nine days,” Saab wrote.

According to Alonso Medina Roe, hired as legal defense by the families of the two men, authorities denied him access to the secretive jailhouse trial and instead provided the men with a public defender. He also revealed that, since his hiring, the regime has prevented him from meeting or speaking with his clients in a flagrant violation of their constitutional rights.

The alleged botched attack, code-named “Operation Gideon,” took place in early May. Maduro’s regime claimed the attack was meant as an invasion to overthrow his illegitimate rule and that the Venezuelan military successfully thwarted it, leading to the deaths of eight men and the detention of 60 rebels.

Maduro’s regime claimed the mastermind behind the operation was Jordan Godreau, another former Green Beret and owner of the Florida-based security firm Silvercorp USA, who allegedly planned the operation from makeshift training camps in neighboring Colombia. Maduro’s officials claimed the operation was poorly planned and executed.

Maduro has repeatedly claimed that the United States and Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó, the actual head of state in the country, were involved in the attack. Both parties have fervently denied any involvement. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pledged to do everything possible to try and free the two men, however, as they are U.S. citizens.

Venezuela’s socialist regime has long been the subject of plans and attempts to remove it by force as it continues to oversee the transformation of the once-thriving South American country into a satellite of communist Cuba wreaked by an unparalleled economic crisis.

In July 2018, Maduro claimed to be the target of a failed assassination attempt during a military speech in Caracas after a drone exploded meters away from him. Multiple arrests were made but no conclusive evidence has ever been presented as to who was behind the attack or even if it was a legitimate attempt against Maduro’s life.

U.S. President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted the possibility of launching a military intervention to remove Maduro from power. However, the idea has never come to fruition. Trump instead has opted to impose economic sanctions on the regime’s crucial oil industry as a means of weakening Maduro’s grip on power.

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