Spain to kick out spy chief

High court rules spy chief Hugo Carvajal must go to the US

Venezuela’s former spy chief, Hugo Carvajal, is to be extradited to the US on the order of the Spanish high court. There are charges of drug trafficking and collaborating with Colombia’s Farc terrorist group against his name. Mr Carvajal has denied these charges and says that all of the allegations are driven by political motives.

The reason for the extradition to the US is possible incriminating evidence Mr Carvajal may hold against the current Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Maduro is a major adversary of the United States and they would want any information that the spy chief is in possession of. 

Mr Carvajal had been in hiding for two years previous to his arrest in Spain. The 61-year-old, who is nicknamed “El Pollo” (The Chicken), disappeared after an earlier court ruled in favour of his extradition. He has been denied asylum by Spain’s interior ministry but he has the opportunity to appeal this decision. 

The journey of Mr Carvajal may be further delayed due to him maybe needing to testify in a different court case. The separate case involves alleged illegal financing from Venezuela of Spain’s left-wing Podemos party. The US will want the process to be as speedy as possible as they have been in contentious talks with Venezuela for years, culminating in tough sanctions from the US.

Hugo Carvajal was the head of Venezuela’s military counter-intelligence from 2004 until 2011. The president at the time was Hugo Chavez. In 2011, US prosecutors accused Mr Carvajal of drug trafficking into Mexico and being on a drug lord’s payroll. He avoided being taken to the US and joined the government of the next president Mr Maduro. This relationship fell apart after Mr Carvajal backed the government’s opposition and subsequently fled to Spain.

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Written by

Claire Gordon


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