Venezuela has charged two former US soldiers with "terrorism" and "conspiracy" for allegedly participating in a failed invasion offer to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro, the Attorney General said on Friday.
Luke Alexander Denman, 34, and Airan Berry, 41, were among the 17 people captured by the Venezuelan military and said they thwarted an attempted mercenary invasion in the early morning hours of Sunday.
Attorney General Tarek William Saab said they were charged with "terrorism, conspiracy, illicit trafficking in weapons of war and (criminal) associations" and could face 25 to 30 years in prison.
Eight attackers are reported to have been killed in the attempted attack.
Saab said Venezuela had applied for an international arrest warrant against former US Army medic Jordan Goudreau, who allegedly organized and trained the mercenary force.
Maduro has accused President Donald Trump of being directly behind the invasion – and Saab said on Friday that the Venezuelans involved would be brought to justice for "conspiring with a foreign government".
Trump flatly rejected the allegation and told Fox News on Friday, "If I wanted to go to Venezuela, I wouldn't make it a secret."
"I would go in and they wouldn't do anything about it. They would turn around. I wouldn't send a small group. No, no, no. It would be an army," he said. "It would be called an invasion."
Venezuela announced on Monday that it had arrested the two former U.S. Special Forces soldiers, and on Wednesday Maduro, who showed the couple's passports on state television, said they would be brought to justice.
The U.S. Army has confirmed that they were former members of the Green Berets stationed in Iraq.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US government would "use every tool available to try to get it back."
When the arrests were announced, Saab alleged that Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is supported by the United States and more than 50 countries to challenge Maduro's authority, was behind the mission.
Saab accused Guaido of signing a $ 212 million contract with "hired mercenaries" using funds confiscated from the United States by the state oil company PDVSA.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is generated automatically from a syndicated feed.)