Walid Makled, the alleged Venezuelan drug kingpin at the center of a U.S. extradition battle, raised the stakes over the weekend, telling a television station that he was willing to share information about his ties to Venezuelan officials, Colombian guerrillas and Middle Eastern terrorist groups with U.S. prosecutors.
Both the United States and Venezuela have asked for the extradition of Makled, who has been in a Colombian jail since August. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos has said Makled will be sent to Venezuela, but the latest revelations could spark a fresh push to have him testify in the United States.
On Monday, former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe suggested the extradition decision is not set in stone.
“The government of Colombia still hasn’t made a decision,” Uribe told The Miami Herald. “The Supreme Court has authorized his extradition to wherever the Colombian government decides.”
But the final decision is in Santos’ hands, Uribe said.
Makled’s extradition is expected to be a key topic when Santos and Chávez meet on Saturday in Colombia. That meeting was originally scheduled for last week, but the Venezuelan government said engine trouble on Chavez’s presidential airplane forced a last minute cancellation.
Although Makled was arrested on a U.S. drug warrant, Santos has said his hand is forced because Venezuela asked for his extradition first and has more serious charges pending against him — including murder.
Last week, Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked Santos to reconsider.
“Should [Makled] be extradited to Venezuela, the Department of Justice and the DEA would be unable to use the information he has already provided to them to legally dismantle some of the most important drug networks in the world today,” Lugar said in a press release.
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