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U.S. mercenaries sentenced to 20 years by Venezuelan court for failed attempt to oust Maduro

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Two former Green Berets have been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a court in Venezuela for their role in a failed coup attempt against President Nicolas Maduro. 

Luke Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, were arrested on May 4 and charged with terrorism and conspiracy.

On Friday night the Venezuelan attorney general, Tarek William Saab, announced that the pair had been sentenced.

‘Following on from their arraignment, they have admitted their responsibility for the acts,’ Saab tweeted.

‘The men ADMITTED having committed crimes of conspiracy, illegal association, trafficking of weapons of war and terrorism as defined by the Penal Code: for this they have been sentenced to 20 years, months and nine days in prison.’

Saab appeared to have omitted the number of months to which they were sentenced.  

‘The hearing continues with the remaining accused,’ he concluded.  

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Luke Denman, 34, was paraded on Venezuelan state TV on May 15

Fellow mercenary Airan Berry, 41, also appeared in a shorter clip

Luke Denman, 34, (pictured left) and Airan Berry, 41, (pictured right) were shown in edited clips broadcast on Venezuelan state TV on May 15 while being interrogated. Venezuelan authorities claim the interviews were filmed the previous day

Venezuelan National Guardsman Captains Antonio José Sequea and Captain Víctor Pimienta were among the Venezuelans arrested in the foiled raid. 

They had participated in a previous uprising against Maduro and are believed to have been among those leading the Venezuelans in the coup.  

Denman and Berry were arrested on May 4 alongside dozens of Venezuelans after Maduro intercepted the plot.

Authorities were said to be lying in wait for the mercenaries after showing ringleader Jordan Goudreau’s face on state TV and naming the Americans a month before the plot even began. 

The former soldiers said they flew to Colombia on January 16 and after training, they accompanied the troops by boat to Venezuelan.

The plan was to capture Maduro, secure an airport and then fly the Venezuelan leader to the United States.

Goudreau, Denman and Berry had served together in Iraq and Afghanistan and Goudreau offered them the job in Venezuela through his Florida-based company Silvercorp USA. 

The U.S. recognizes Maduro’s opposition Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela and in March, set out a $15million reward for information that let to Maduro’s arrest or conviction.  

Goudreau is currently under federal investigation in the U.S. for arms smuggling after identifying himself as the person behind the plot in a video posted to social media, claiming that he had provided the coup members with training and equipment.

He claims to have signed a $212million contract with Guadió, which the opposition leader has denied.

Maduro has presented an alleged signed contract during press conferences as proof that Guaidó was involved in the plot to overthrow him.

On May 8, Venezuela requested the extradition of Goudreau and two U.S.-based Venezuelans for their roles in the failed incursion.

 

Luke Denman (right) and Airan Berry (left), both former U.S. special forces soldiers, were arrested on May 4 for their part in an attempted coup of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Luke Denman (right) and Airan Berry (left), both former U.S. special forces soldiers, were arrested on May 4 for their part in an attempted coup of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro

Luke Denman, pictured, reveals in the clip that 'jackpot' was the code name for President Nicólas Maduro

Airan Berry, pictured, was questioned about the alleged involvement of drug traffickers

Luke Denman (pictured left) reveals in the clip that ‘jackpot’ was the code name for President Nicolás Maduro. Airan Berry (pictured right) was questioned about the involvement of drug traffickers in the interviews broadcast on Venezuelan state TV on Monday

Luke Denman (left) and Airan Berry (right) are pictured here during their arrest on May 4. The videos broadcast on Monday were the first new clips of them since their court appearance on May 8. Both Americans are charged with conspiracy and terrorism and face 25-30 years in jail

Luke Denman (left) and Airan Berry (right) are pictured here during their arrest on May 4. The videos broadcast on Monday were the first new clips of them since their court appearance on May 8. Both Americans are charged with conspiracy and terrorism and face 25-30 years in jail

In a previous video broadcast on Venezuelan state TV on May 7, Denman claimed he was first approached about the job by Goudreau in early December but was given limited details about what was involved.

In the interrogation video, Denman also stated that he had taken the job offer from Goudreau because he believed it was working to free the Venezuelan people from Maduro.

Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau (pictured center) has claimed responsibility for a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro in a plan named 'Operation Gedeón

Former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau (pictured center) has claimed responsibility for a failed operation to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro in a plan named ‘Operation Gedeón

He was questioned about the leadership of the plot and when asked who commanded Goudreau, he claimed it was President Trump.

President Trump and the U.S. government denied any ‘direct’ involvement in the botched raid and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that ‘every tool’ will be used to secure the release of the Americans involved.

The U.S. broke diplomatic ties with President Maduro and closed its embassy in Caracas last year.

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