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Report: Navy Fugitive 'Fat Leonard' Seeks Asylum In Venezuela

    Report: Navy Fugitive 'Fat Leonard' Seeks Asylum In Venezuela
    Last updated: 2 months ago
    Image credit: Interpol Venezuela [via BBC]

    Facts

    • Venezuelan newspaper, Últimas Noticias, reported on Monday that Leonard Glenn Francis — the Malaysian defense contractor behind a Navy bribery scheme that reportedly conned the US military out of $35M — has expressed a desire to seek political asylum in the country. [1]
    • Francis, known as "Fat Leonard," reportedly announced his wish to remain in Venezuela on medical and political grounds on Sept. 22, a day after he was arrested by Interpol at Caracas international airport as he readied to depart for Russia. [2]
    • He had been on the run for roughly two weeks after escaping house arrest in San Diego, Calif. on Sept. 4. He reportedly cut off his ankle monitor and fled to Venezuela via Mexico and Cuba. [3]
    • He was set to appear last week before a federal judge in San Diego and to be sentenced in October. US authorities have already started proceedings with Venezuela to seek his extradition, and a new hearing has been scheduled for Dec. 14. [4]
    • However, it's unclear whether Caracas will comply with an extradition treaty as tensions between both countries remain high. The US considers Nicolás Maduro's government illegitimate and has imposed sanctions on him, members of the government, and Venezuela's oil industry. [5]
    • Leonard pleaded guilty to bribery in 2015 and admitted to paying about $500K in cash and offering luxuries to Navy officials in exchange for classified information and contracts. He also agreed to give up the $35M in unlawful gains. [6]
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    Spin

    Establishment-critical narrative

    The "Fat Leonard" bribery case shines a light on how deceptive the establishment is in America. Despite conceivably being the largest US Navy corruption scandal ever, it has received little attention from Congress, the media, and think tanks because they all benefit from widespread corruption in Pentagon contracts. It's about time the American taxpayers work to combat this system.

    Pro-establishment narrative

    The federal response to this bribery and fraud scheme proves that US institutions are working against corruption and holding those who are guilty accountable — even Navy officials and defense contractors. The arrest of "Fat Leonard" at Caracas international airport was only possible due to alerts placed by US law enforcement agencies.

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