Venezuela’s besieged socialist President Nicolás Maduro has announced to the world that his security forces captured two U.S. citizens among a group of 13 “terrorists” after a failed raid.
Officials in Caracas claimed the raid intended to capture the socialist leader. Maduro himself proclaimed there was no doubt the Trump administration orchestrated the incursion.
Fox News’ Edmund DeMarche reports:
In a nationwide broadcast appearance on state television, Maduro held up two U.S. passports that he said had been recovered during the attempted raid. He read off the names and birthdays of the two Americans.
RT @pvillegas_tlSUR: Attention. Venezuela. Operation Gideon against the country continues: 8 mercenaries captured in a coastal town. The organized people of that place captured them and handed them over to the Bolivarian national armed force. pic.twitter.com/y6kqcBLHQE
— Nicolás Maduro (@maduro_en) May 4, 2020
“They were playing Rambo,” he said, according to The Guardian. “They were playing hero.”
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 two U.S. citizens were identified as Luke Denman and Airan Berry, both former U.S. special forces soldiers. Video emerged that purported to show Venezuelan authorities with their captives lined up at a seaside marina.
The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to an after-hours email from Fox News. The Washington Post reported that U.S. officials and Juan Guaidó, the leader of the Venezuelan opposition, denied any involvement with the action called “Operation Gideon.”
The requests for comment followed Maduro’s claim about U.S. involvement. Guaidó is recognized as the legitimate president of Venezuela by 60 nations worldwide, including the United States, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom.