A former Venezuelan military intelligence chief arrested at the United States' request on drug trafficking charges by Aruba will be released within hours, Caracas' top diplomat said Sunday.
Retired major general Hugo Carvajal was detained late Wednesday on the tiny Dutch-speaking island, where he had been designated but not confirmed as Venezuela's consul. President Nicolas Maduro swiftly denounced the arrest as a "kidnapping."
Asked about Carvajal on Telesur television, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said his "release will be coming within hours."
Aruba, an autonomous island within the Dutch kingdom, is located just 27 kilometers (17 miles) north of the Venezuelan coastline.
Venezuela's Supreme Justice Tribunal blasted the decision to arrest Carvajal as a "violation of international law."
Carvajal was a long-time supporter of the late president Hugo Chavez. A graduate of Venezuela's military academy, he took part in the failed 1992 coup that Chavez, then a mid-ranking officer in the Venezuelan paratroopers, led against president Carlos Andres Perez.
After Carvajal's arrest in Aruba, the US Justice Department on Thursday unsealed a May 16, 2013, indictment charging the general with protecting drug shipments on behalf of Colombian traffickers.
The US indictment alleges he was on the payroll of Wilber Varela, a leader of Colombia's North Valley cartel, and others from 2004 to 2010.