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Ex-Green Berets believed US backed plan to oust Maduro, families say

Friends and relatives of two US mercenaries captured by Venezuela in a botched attempt to oust President Nicolás Maduro said they believe the former special forces soldiers would only have taken part in the mission had they been convinced it was backed by the White House, according to a report.

Luke Denman and Airan Berry have appeared on Venezuelan TV admitting their role in the wild May 3 attack, which authorities said was orchestrated by former Green Beret Jordan Goudreau and Gen. Cliver Alcala, a Venezuelan army defector.

They are among 34 combatants taken into custody for the raid, which Goudreau reportedly helped set up to cash in on a $15 million US bounty for Maduro’s capture.

Eight mercenaries were killed in the operation, which Maduro has blamed on the US, the Colombian government and Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido.

President Trump and Guaido have denied any involvement.

A half-dozen family members and close friends of the two captured Americans told NBC News they believe the men would have only participated in the operation had they been convinced it was supported by the Trump administration.

Some of the friends and relatives said they believe Denman and Berry were misled.

“The only conclusion I can draw is he was intentionally deceived,” Denman pal Daniel Dochen told the network. “And Goudreau sent his former comrade-in-arms on a suicide mission in service of his ego.”

He said Denman had told him before the raid that he was involved in an effort “sanctioned by the US government.”

Former U.S. special forces soldiers Luke Denman and Airan Berry who were arrested in Venezuela during a botched plot to assassinate President Nicolás Maduro.The families of former U.S. special forces soldiers Luke Denman and Airan Berry have pleaded for their release from Venezuela.Luke-Denman-03

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