US mercenary says group plotted to seize Venezuela’s presidential palace

Airan Berry, captured by security forces, says group aimed to haul Maduro away ‘however necessary’

An American soldier of fortune captured during a botched attempt to seize Venezuela’s leader has claimed his group had plotted to raid Nicolás Maduro’s presidential palace before spiriting him away “however necessary”.

Airan Berry, 41, was one of two US mercenaries captured by Venezuelan security forces this week after what appears to have been a catastrophically executed attempt to topple Maduro by sneaking into the South American country in a pair of weather-beaten fishing boats.

Related: Venezuela: captured US mercenary claims he planned to abduct Maduro

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