A man identified as former U.S. special forces member Luke Denman was reportedly captured in Venezuela this week and accused of attempting to carry out a coup against the nation’s leader, Nicolas Maduro.
In a video released on Wednesday and presented on state television as a confession, Denman described the botched plan and claimed he was under orders from the Trump administration, the New York Post reported.
For his part, President Donald Trump maintains that he played no role in the debacle, according to Yahoo News. American officials say they will work diligently to determine the facts and bring any Americans involved back home.
“I was helping Venezuelans”
Both Denman, 34, and his alleged partner, 41-year-old Airan Berry, say they were enlisted by former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau to plan the revolution against Maduro. Berry’s supposed confession aired Thursday on Venezuelan television.
The socialist leader’s forces reportedly captured the men on Monday along with six Venezuelan suspects.
In the video released two days later, Denman asserted that their mission involved taking over a Caracas airport before transporting Maduro and a cache of weapons into the U.S. He said Goudreau had been serving as a contractor and relayed instructions directly from Trump.
“I was helping Venezuelans take back control of their country,” Denman said, according to the New York Post.
“We will use every tool”
The Trump administration has identified the Maduro regime as illegitimate and publicly backed opposition leader Juan Guaido as the nation’s true leader, as the Associated Press reported.
According to one former Navy Seal interviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Denman used secret body language to signal that he was lying under duress about Trump’s involvement.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, for his part, has made it clear that his agency will be working toward an appropriate resolution.
“We will start the process of trying to figure a way, if in fact these are Americans that are there, that we can figure out a path forward,” he said, according to Reuters. “We want to get every American back. If the Maduro regime decides to hold them, we will use every tool that we have available to try and get them back.”
While there is no credible evidence that the Trump administration had actually backed a coup against Maduro, it is clear that the White House wants to see a regime change in that country. Based on the apparently coerced statements from Denman and Berry, it is hardly a surprise that free nations around the world are calling for a Venezuela without Maduro in power.