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Cape Verde court rejects Maduro envoy's appeal against US extradition

A court in Cape Verde has rejected an appeal from a detained Colombian businessman seeking to avoid extradition to the United States on money laundering charges, his defense team said on Tuesday.

Aug 4 (Reuters) - A court in Cape Verde has rejected an appeal from a detained Colombian businessman seeking to avoid extradition to the United States on money laundering charges, his defense team said on Tuesday.

Alex Saab, who has been working on behalf of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, was arrested in June when a plane he was traveling on landed in the West African island nation. Maduro's government said Saab was traveling as a state "agent" on business to obtain humanitarian supplies to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

The United States last year charged Saab in connection with a bribery scheme to take advantage of Venezuela's state-controlled exchange rate. It also sanctioned him for allegedly orchestrating a corruption network that allowed him and Maduro to profit from a state-run food subsidy program.

Saab's defense team, led by former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzon, said in a statement that it would appeal the decision against "Special Envoy Saab" before Cape Verde's Supreme Court.

If that appeal were to fail, Saab's lawyers said they would then make a request to the Constitutional Court. His lawyers called the U.S. charges "politically motivated."

The U.S. Department of Justice said in June that Saab, who also has a Venezuelan passport, was arrested pursuant to an Interpol red notice issued with respect to his indictment.

(Reporting by Angus Berwick Editing by Brian Ellsworth and David Gregorio)

((angus.berwick@thomsonreuters.com - Twitter: @AABerwick;))

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