Alex Saab does not want the world to see him dressed as a prisoner


Alex Saab does not want the world to see him dressed as a prisoner: he asked to limit access to hearings for money laundering.

Nicolás Maduro's frontman will have to face Judge John O'Sullivan on November 1. He asked that the majority of those interested participate in the Zoom by phone.

Colombian Alex Saab, frontman of Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro and accused of laundering hundreds of millions of dollars from corrupt businesses with that country's regime, does not want to be seen in a prison suit for what he asked a federal judge limiting video access to audiences.

In a 12-page motion, Saab's defense assured that the Colombian businessman "is not seeking to eliminate public access, which is a constitutional right, but rather asks the court to fulfill a role as a doorman to prevent them from continuing. violating the regulations" that prohibit photos or videos in court hearings.

He is looking for only a handful of accredited journalists who can access the hearings that are broadcast by Zoom, along with lawyers and family members, and that the rest of the public and the media do so by telephone. Your next hearing is November 1, where you can plead guilty or not guilty.

Saab had its first Zoom hearing last week before Magistrate John O'Sullivan, who notified it that it faces eight conspiracy charges to launder money and money laundering. More than 300 people participated in the hearing, including lawyers, the judge, prosecutors, and also journalists, activists, and opponents of the Venezuelan government.

The 49-year-old businessman was extradited last week after spending 16 months under arrest in Cape Verde, where he was detained in June 2020. He will not enjoy the benefit of bail due to the danger of his escape.

The US prosecution alleges that Saab has amassed a fortune of more than 350 million dollars through corrupt deals. He may have bribed Venezuelan officials to obtain multimillion-dollar contracts to build affordable housing in Venezuela and produced forged documents.

In a letter his wife read after his extradition, Saab said he had not committed any crime and that he will not collaborate with Washington.

The Colombian connected to the hearing last week from a room in the federal prison where he is being held in the United States. He was alone, sitting behind a table, dressed in an orange prison suit. She wore her neck-length dark hair and a mask. His words were not heard because there was only audio in English for the translator, who interpreted the words he said.

After describing him as a "Venezuelan diplomat" and "a polarizing figure in the world arena," the defense explained in the motion that the Saab case had attracted the attention of the media around the world.

Among the participants, "many, or perhaps most of them, were members of the press covering the Saab case," others were bloggers or people "eager to post photos or videos" of Saab, attorney Henry Bell said.

At the hearing, the judge reminded the participants that it is strictly forbidden to record or take photos or videos of parts or all of the hearings according to the law. However, Saab's defense alleges that "dozens of media outlets and others ignored the court's instructions and took pictures and videos of Mr. Saab's first appearance in court."

To substantiate his claim, Bell submitted a list that includes at least 35 posts on Twitter, Instagram, and other media of Saab photos and videos at that first hearing.

"The court should not allow such challenging conduct and act to ensure that it does not happen again," said the attorney. "Although the reality associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the courts to perform some procedures through Zoom, it cannot be ignored or violated "the laws, Saab's defense stated.

After a lengthy explanation, the defense asked the judge to limit access to Zoom to "only the necessary parties, the family of the accused and accredited journalistic organizations ." The public should have access, he added, only through the phone.