Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro claimed Monday that his government arrested two U.S. citizens who were allegedly trying to launch a coup against him.
In a televised speech Monday night, Maduro displayed passports and drivers licenses that purportedly belong to two U.S. citizens who were captured by Venezuelan forces on Monday, according to CNN. The Americans, Maduro said, were members of a mercenary group that attempted to topple his regime.
The Venezeulan president’s official Twitter page early Tuesday morning posted footage of the alleged incursion. The video shows unidentifiable men in a boat with their hands in the air and surrounded by Venezuelan forces.
RT @OrlenysOV: This is the moment when the mercenaries captured in Chuao surrendered, being surrounded by the Civic-Military-Police operation which stopped the terrorist incursion. #4May. pic.twitter.com/8JZwjedAfp
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) May 5, 2020
The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Caller News Foundation about the validity of Maduro’s claims.
The Venezuelan leader on Monday also showed ID cards purporting to show the men worked for Silvercorp, a security services company based in Florida. The CEO of Silvercorp on Monday appeared to confirm Maduro’s claim that the two men are U.S. citizens, and worked with the company.
Jordan Goudreau, a former green beret and the CEO of Silvercorp, told the Washington Post that the two U.S. citizens were part of a force of around 60 men who entered Venezuela and were captured Monday with six Venezuelan citizens. Goudreau identified the two men as Airan Berry and Luke Denman, both former Special Forces members. (RELATED: Trump Admin Indicts Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro On Drug Trafficking Charges)
Goudreau also called on the U.S. government to do what it can to bring the two men back home.
The Trump administration named Maduro as the leader of an international drug cartel in March and is offering a $15 million bounty for information leading to his capture. The administration has imposed severe sanctions on Maduro’s government.
Maduro, who accused the U.S. of being involved in the alleged coup attempt, claimed that his government knew about the operation the entire time.
“We knew everything,” he stated. “What they ate, what they didn’t eat. What they drank. Who financed them. We know that the U.S. government delegated this as a [U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration] operation,” he went on. The DEA denied being part of the operation, according to the Washington Post.
Venezuelan opposition figure Juan Guaido, considered the legitimate leader by the U.S. and more than 50 governments, also denied any involvement in the coup attempt or with Silvercorp, according to the Washington Post.
Guaido also called on Maduro’s government to respect the human rights of those captured.
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