Spanish court refuses U.S. extradition request for ex-Venezuelan minister

MADRID (Reuters) - Spain’s High Court on Friday denied a U.S. extradition request for former Venezuelan minister Javier Alvarado Ochoa in connection with an investigation into money-laundering.

It said it had refused extradition because the U.S. warrant was based on alleged crimes also under investigation in Spain, and because Alvarado Ochoa also holds Spanish citizenship.

Alvarado Ochoa served as minister for electric power development under former President Hugo Chavez. He was arrested in Spain in May on a U.S. warrant and has been in jail since.

The court did not say if he would be released.

The U.S. embassy in Madrid declined to comment, redirecting questions to the U.S. Department of Justice. The DoJ had no immediate comment.

Reuters was not immediately able to contact the ex-minister or his representatives for comment

Washington is seeking Alvarado Ochoa’s extradition over alleged money laundering in connection with transactions involving state oil company PDVSA.

Chavez’s successor Nicolas Maduro has described the U.S. investigation as politically motivated, and accuses Washington of seeking to undermine his government. Washington accuses Maduro of usurping power after rigging an election 2018.

Reporting by Emma Pinedo, editing by Andrei Khalip; editing by John Stonestreet