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Aruba releases Venezuelan ex-general wanted in U.S.

By Ray Sanchez, CNN
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Mon July 28, 2014
The United States has accused Hugo Carvajal of having ties to drug trafficking.
The United States has accused Hugo Carvajal of having ties to drug trafficking.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Hugo Carvajal returns to Venezuela after his detention in Aruba
  • Carvajal, a diplomat and retired general, is wanted in the United States
  • Carvajal is Venezuela's former head of military intelligence
  • Venezuela's President called his arrest an illegal kidnapping

Editor's note: Read this article in Spanish at CNNEspanol.com

(CNN) -- A retired Venezuelan military general was released from custody in Aruba Sunday, days after authorities arrested him there.

Hugo Carvajal appeared beside Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro at a political event in Caracas after he was flown back to his home country.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Dutch officials had admitted that Carvajal's detention violated his diplomatic immunity.

Carvajal, who is wanted in the United States for alleged drug-trafficking ties, was Venezuela's head of military intelligence from 2004 to 2008 and was tapped as the country's consul to Aruba this year.

He was arrested Wednesday night on his arrival in the Caribbean island.

Peter Blanken, chief prosecutor in Aruba, told CNN en Español last week that a judge decided the arrest was "legal and correct."

The arrest was based on a formal request from the United States. Blanken said Aruba was "obliged to cooperate" because of a treaty with the United States.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had said Carvajal was "illegally kidnapped." And Chris Lejuez, Carvajal's lawyer, argued that his client has diplomatic immunity, state media in Venezuela reported last week.

"No country can help another violate international treaties," he said, according to the state-run AVN news agency.

Carvajal had a diplomatic passport and a regular passport.

Venezuela's Foreign Ministry condemned what it called an unjust and unprecedented arrest and said officials were working through diplomatic channels to resolve the matter.

Since 2008, Washington has accused Carvajal of ties with drug trafficking and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia guerrilla group. Carvajal has denied the accusations.

CNN en Español's Nelson Quiñones, Patricia Janiot and Miguel Escalona and journalists Osmary Hernandez and Laura Castellanos contributed to this report.

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