Kidnapping Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and bringing him to the US was the objective of a failed incursion into the country, one of the two captured US mercenaries said in an interrogation tape released by state TV.
Two employees of Florida-based security firm, Silvercorp, have been detained by Venezuelan forces in connection with the failed invasion.
The only instructions he received before Sunday’s botched operation was to take control of the airport in order to facilitate the transfer of Maduro to the US, Luke Denman, one of the detained Americans, said in the footage.
Denman also claimed that there was a good payout waiting for him following the successful completion of the risky mission. “I expected anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000,” he said.
Maduro announced on Wednesday that Denman and fellow Silvercorp employee, Airan Berry, will go on trial in Venezuela. Caracas will also be demanding Washington extradite Silvercorp boss, Jordan Goudreau, as he was the one who allegedly coordinated the actions of the mercenaries.
In his comments after the broadcast of the interrogation tape, Maduro insisted that “Donald Trump is the direct chief of this invasion.”
Washington has made little secret of its desire to see Venezuela’s socialist president removed from power. It has been actively supporting opposition figure Juan Guaido, who declared himself ‘interim president’ in January 2019, and it even offered a reward of $15 million for any information leading to Maduro’s arrest.
However, Trump was quick to deny any involvement by the US administration in the failed Venezuelan incursion.
On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged that the White House would use “every tool” in order to bring the two Americans – who used to serve in US special operations forces – back home.
Denman and Berry, along with 11 other ‘foreign mercenaries’, were arrested by Venezuelan security forces on Monday as they were intercepted while allegedly trying to reach the country’s shore by speedboat.