The lawyer David Rivkin, in charge of the defence of the Venezuelan Special Envoy Alex Saab in the United States, presented on Wednesday the oral arguments on the diplomatic immunity of his client, violated by the North American nation by transferring him to a prison in Miami since October 16, 2021.
The defence showed a series of documents issued by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry on Wednesday morning, in which the diplomatic status of Alex Saab is clearly stated. However, the decision of the appeals court judge will not be known today.
Alex Saab was illegally detained in Cape Verde on 12 June 2020, a country that complied with an alleged Interpol Red Alert which was made public with the non-coincidental date of 13 June, one day after the act was perpetrated. Likewise, the International Police informed the Venezuelan Government on 25 June 2020 that the Red Alert had been cancelled and that there was no data in the system's records on Alex Saab. This again shows that his detention was plagued by irregularities.
The arguments of the defence include that Alex Saab Morán was appointed as a "Special Envoy of the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela (...) to take steps to ensure the commercial and humanitarian procurement of essential goods and services". These efforts were to seek "practical solutions to the complex situations affecting the Republic (...) as a result of the criminal and financial blockade to which it has been subjected since 2015" by the Government of the United States and the European Union, according to the accreditation of 9 April 2018, signed by the then Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza Monserrat.
Vienna Convention and international viability
Rivkin assured the media that Alex Saab's case involves the "viability of the international system", because it is about "the free opportunity of sovereign states to engage in diplomacy, which requires absolute inviolability of ambassadors and special envoys".
On this point, it is necessary to remember that the United States, as the world's economic and military power, maintains diplomatic relations in most of the countries of the United Nations, which implies having Special Envoys in each of these nations. In the event that Alex Saab's prosecution is allowed, this would open the door for other states to violate the diplomatic immunity of foreign officials.
In this regard, the defence argues that its immunity should prevent the arrest of Alex Saab, as contained in articles 29 and 30 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. For example, Article 29 states that "the person of a diplomatic agent is inviolable. He may not be subjected to any form of detention or arrest. The receiving State shall treat him with due respect and shall take all appropriate measures to prevent any attack on his person, liberty or dignity.