Captured American Luke Denman says he was "helping Venezuelans take back control of their country" on video aired on Venezuelan TV. President Nicolas Maduro accused US President Donald Trump of being behind what he called an "invasion."
Venezuelan state TV broadcast on Wednesday a video of captured American Luke Denman, in which he said he was instructed to seize control of Caracas' airport and bring in a plane to fly President Nicolas Maduro to the United States.
Venezuelan authorities on Monday arrested Denman, another US citizen Airan Berry, and 11 other "terrorists" in what Maduro has called a failed plot coordinated with Washington to enter the country via the Caribbean coast and oust him.
#VideoViral of the confession made by a mercenary, a former US military man, about a plan to take control of the airport in Venezuela to kidnap @NicolasMaduro and take him to the United States.#EscudoBolivarianoTiburon2020#6Mayo pic.twitter.com/P5MxZAUbfF— Embajada de Venezuela en Belice (@embavenbz1) May 6, 2020
"Donald Trump is the direct chief of this invasion," Maduro said in televised comments, after the video of Denman was broadcast.
"They are convicts, confessed, caught red-handed and are being judged by the republic's attorney general, by Venezuela's civil courts, and the process will be full of guarantees and fair," he added.
US President Donald Trump has denied involvement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that the US government would use "every tool" to secure the Americans return, if they were being held in Venezuela.
Denman, 34, in the video statement from an undisclosed location, answered questions from a person off-camera speaking in English. Denman said his mission was to secure the airport and establish outer security, though it was unclear how they planned to get Maduro on a plane.
In March, the US Department of Justice charged Maduro and a dozen other current and former Venezuelan officials with "narco-terrorism" and the Trump administration offered a reward of $15 million for information leading to his arrest.
"I was helping Venezuelans take back control of their country," Denman said in the video.
Denman and Berry are former special operations forces members who had been working with Jordan Goudreau, an American military veteran who leads a Florida-based security company called Silvercorp USA.