Spain rejects US bid to extradite Venezuela ex-intel chief

A top Spanish court on Monday said it had denied a US request to extradite Venezuela's former military intelligence chief on drug trafficking charges, instead ordering his release.

Spain rejects US bid to extradite Venezuela ex-intel chief
Photos: AFP

“The Audiencia National has denied the extradition of General Hugo Armando Carvajal,” said Spain's top criminal court, which handles such requests.

The judges decided to release Carvajal, who served as head of military intelligence under the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and has been held in provisional detention since his arrest in Madrid in mid-April.

Details of the full judgement will not be published until Tuesday, said the court which examined the case last week.

“We are very satisfied but out of prudence, we are not going to comment on the decision until we have the full judgement,” Carvajal's lawyer Maria Dolores de Arguelles told AFP by telephone.

“We only have the judgement on his release and I am personally going to the Estremera prison to tell him,” she said, indicating that he would be released from the facility on the outskirts of Madrid later in the day.

Known as “El Pollo” (the Chicken), Carvajal was stripped of his rank after coming out in support of Juan Guaido as Venezuela's acting president in February.

He then fled by boat to the Dominican Republic before relocating to Spain where he was arrested in April.

Carvajal has long been sought by US Treasury officials who suspect him of providing support to drug trafficking by the FARC guerrilla group in Colombia.

In an indictment filed in New York in 2011, Carvajal was accused of coordinating the transport of more than 5.6 tonnes of cocaine from Venezuela to Mexico in 2006 that was ultimately destined for the United States.

If convicted, Carvajal could face between 10 years to life in prison, the US Justice Department said in April following his arrest.

Carvajal has denied any “links to drug trafficking and the FARC”, Spanish judicial sources said at the time.

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