The Venezuelan government has appointed Alex Saab, a man being detained in Cabo Verde and who faces extradition to the U.S., as its ambassador to the African Union (AU).

Mr Saab has been in detention in the West African nation of Cabo Verde since June, having become entwined in the feud between Venezuela and the United States of America.

He was arrested in Cabo Verde in June when his private jet had a stopover in the West African nation while on an alleged humanitarian Special Mission to Iran on behalf of the government of Venezuela.

Since Mr Saab’s arrest, Venezuela has fought a request by the U.S government for his extradition to America to face charges of alleged financial crimes

The President Nicolas Maduro-led administration in Venezuela maintained that his detention is in “violation of international law and norms.” .

It is on this ground that Mr Saab’s legal team led by Nigerian lawyer, Femi Falana, approached the ECOWAS Community Court in Abuja to stop the U.S extradition request.

A document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES shows that the ECOWAS court has affirmed the diplomat status of Mr Saab and ordered his release.

The ECOWAS court, in its ECW/CCJ/RUL/07/2020 ruling, ordered the immediate release of the Special Envoy from prison and his transfer to permanent home detention.

It also ordered the suspension of “the extradition proceedings, pending a hearing on the substantive issues concerning his detention scheduled for 4 February 2021.”

But the Cabo Verde authorities are yet to obey the order as Mr Saab has remained in custody over a week after.

New Status

Another document signed by the Venezuelan government and obtained by this newspaper on Monday night reinforced Mr Saab’s immunity status.

In a communiqué dated December 24, Venezuela announced Mr Saab as its Alternate Permanent Representative to the African Union (AU).

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“To designate / appoint the citizen Alex Nain Saab Moran, who is the holder of Identity Card No. V-21,495,350, as Alternate Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela before the African Union (AU).

“The Human Management Office is instructed to notify the interested party in compliance with the provisions established under Article 73 of the Organic Law of Administrative Procedures,” an excerpt from the communiqué signed by Venezuelan Minister of Popular Power for Foreign Relations, Jorge Arreaza, read.

“What is clear is that the African Union considers the immunity of high-ranking officials as something to be taken seriously. It therefore stands to reason that the African Union will expect all its member States, including Cabo Verde, to respect the international status of representatives of governments accredited to the organisation. These now include Mr Alex Saab,” Rutsel Martha, a member of Mr Saab’s defense team, said in a separate statement to this reporter.

See communiqué authenticating Mr Saab’s new status below..

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