Iran condemns US indictment against Venezuela’s Maduro

An Iranian government spokesperson blasted the United States for its indictment of Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro.

al-monitor Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a news conference at Miraflores Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, March 12, 2020.  Photo by REUTERS/Manaure Quintero.

Mar 30, 2020

With Washington dialing up the economic pressure on Tehran, an Iranian government spokesperson blasted the United States for its indictment of Venezuelan strongman Nicolas Maduro. 

“No international law allows the US to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries and prepare the ground for a coup, overthrow or aggression against an independent state,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Seyyed Abbas Mousavi said on Friday

“The US government’s unilateralism and shameless enforcement of domestic law beyond borders have reached its climax," Mousavi added.

The US Justice Department unveiled criminal charges against Maduro and other current and former senior Venezuelan government officials on Thursday. The indictments, which were the result of a years-long investigation by federal prosecutors across three US cities, accused the 57-year-old leader of “narco-terrorism,” drug trafficking and corruption. 

The unsealed indictments accuse Maduro and members of his inner circle of running a criminal enterprise known as the Cartel de Los Soles (Cartel of the Suns) that colluded with the Columbia-based insurgent group Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, known as the FARC, “to flood the United States with cocaine.”

The US State Department meanwhile offered a $15 million reward for information that could lead to Maduro’s arrest. 

The Donald Trump administration has kept up the pressure on both Iran and Venezuela amid the coronavirus pandemic. On Thursday, the US Treasury Department imposed fresh sanctions on 20 companies, Iranian officials and individuals with ties to the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and other US-designated terrorist groups.

Iran is experiencing the region’s worst coronavirus outbreak, with more than 32,000 reported cases of COVID-19 and 2,378 deaths

The White House has resisted calls from some world leaders and human rights organizations to ease its “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Iran, which Tehran says is hampering its ability to contain the virus. Officials in Iran have increasingly taken to social media to condemn the US for what it calls “economic terrorism.”

Earlier this month, the US blacklisted more than a dozen companies in the United Arab Emirates, China, Hong Kong and South Africa for allegedly engaging with Iran’s petrochemical industry.