(CNN) –– Two former US green berets were sentenced to 20 years in prison in Venezuela for participating in an alleged incursion against the questioned president Nicolás Maduro, according to the Venezuelan attorney general, Tarek William Saab, on Friday night.
Tarek William Saab posted on his Twitter account that US citizens Luke Denman and Airan Berry confessed during a preliminary hearing of their trial, while they were being processed for their participation in the so-called Operation Gideon last May.
Saab assured that the men “admitted their responsibility in the events,” adding that “these men admitted to having committed crimes of conspiracy, association, illicit trafficking in weapons of war and terrorism,” according to the criminal code in force in Venezuela.
CNN was not allowed to follow the trial in Caracas or have access to this hearing. It was not possible to verify whether the defendants were able to access lawyers and whether it is true or not that they admitted the charges against them.
In Venezuela, more than 40 people are detained on suspicion of having participated in an alleged maritime incursion, which the Venezuelan authorities call Operation Gideon, and which, according to the government, was intended to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro.
In May, Jorge Rodríguez, Venezuela’s vice president of Information and Communication, told state-run VTV that the two former US military officers would be accused of participating in an attempted coup and assassination of the Venezuelan president. Berry and Denman were detained at El Helicoide, the headquarters of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (SEBIN).
In a statement sent to CNN in May, Berry’s wife claimed that her husband deserves to be repatriated to the United States and says she learned of the arrest through the media.