Mercenary: ‘Trump ordered failed coup’
The American mercenary caught in a failed coup against Nicolas Maduro said on Wednesday that President Donald Trump ordered him to escort the Venezuelan leader back to the US.
Luke Denman, who is being held prisoner in South America, said the President tasked him and ex-Green Beret Jordan Goudreau with picking Mr Maduro up from Maiquetia "Simon Bolivar" Airport.
The former US special forces agent claims Mr Trump was aware of plans to bring Mr Maduro back to the US by plane, according to Venezuela-based television network Telesur.
EN EXCLUSIVA, Pdte. @NicolasMaduro muestran testimonio de Luke Denman, uno de los mercenarios estadounidenses capturados en Venezuela, que tiene alta preparación táctica en infiltración, buceo y acciones comando— Leonel Retamal Muñoz (@LeonelTeleSUR) May 6, 2020
🔴Afirma que conoció el documento firmado por Jordan y @jguaido pic.twitter.com/rooQbq9wQg
However, Mr Trump has denied any US involvement in the failed military operation Mr Goudreau allegedly orchestrated to capture Mr Maduro.
Mr Denman's claims surfaced as two US mercenaries were arrested for their part in a failed raid intended to allegedly kidnap or kill Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
The socialist leader accused the mercenaries of "playing Rambo" and revealed their identities on state television.
Retired Green Beret Jordan Goudreau claimed he led the operation.
He also claims his private surveillance firm Silvercorp provided security for the US President.
Mr Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both denied US involvement in the attack against Mr Maduro.
Mr Trump said he was just hearing about the coup when he spoke to reporters at the White House on Tuesday.
"But whatever it is, we'll let you know. But it has nothing to do with our government," he said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also denied Mr Denman's claims and questioned the Venezuelan President's claim to have two Americans in custody.
"There was no US government direct involvement in this operation," he told reporters at the State Department on Wednesday, adding: "If we had been involved, it would have turned out differently."
Mr Pompeo remained mum when asked about State Department efforts to recovered the reportedly captured Americans.
"We're going to work on this. It's a consular matter in the sense that any time there are Americans detained someplace, we'll work to get them back," he said.
"If, in fact, these are Americans that are there, we can figure out a path forward," Mr Pompeo added.
"If the Maduro regime decides to hold them, we'll use every tool to try to get them back. It's our responsibility to do so."
Venezuelan authorities have claimed two US mercenaries have been arrested for taking part in a raid intended to kidnap or kill the country's head honcho.
It is claimed Mr Denman and Airan Berry were captured while "playing Rambo" as they attempted to storm a beach with a group of other men before daybreak on Sunday.
Mr Maduro brandished equipment like night-vision goggles said to be seized from the men during a press conference, in which he accused Mr Denman and Mr Berry of trying to assassinate him.
"The United States government is fully and completely involved in this defeated raid," Maduro said.
"They were playing Rambo."
Meanwhile, Mr Goudreau has claimed he led the operation despite an absence of concrete evidence.
Tensions between the US and Venezuela run high amid the South American country's crumbling economy and political unrest.
Conflict has built since Mr Maduro was elected to a new term in 2018 after international politicians suggested the vote was rigged.
The Trump administration supports the opposition as a quest for "freedom and democracy" in Venezuela in the midst of allegations of rigged elections.
This article originally appeared in The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as Mercenary: 'Trump ordered failed coup'