Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Sourcing, expertise deliver latest scoop on Venezuela corruption case

FILE - In this Thursday, Sept 9, 2021, file photo, Pedestrians pass a poster calling for freedom for Colombian businessman and Venezuelan special envoy Alex Saab, in Caracas, Venezuela, Sept. 9, 2021. The U.S. has described Saab as the main conduit for corruption in Venezuela, and Saab was extradited to the U.S. on October to face money laundering charges. AP reporting reveals that Saab has been betraying the Venezuelan government for years in secret meetings with U.S. law enforcement. (AP Photo / Ariana Cubillos, File)


Well-sourced Latin America correspondent Joshua Goodman used his contacts, along with strong prep work and deep knowledge of the federal court system, to snag a court filing before a judge ordered it redacted, giving Goodman his second major scoop in as many weeks in the case of a top U.S. corruption target from Venezuela.

Since 2018, Goodman has painstakingly covered the shady dealings between Alex Saab and Venezuela’s socialist government. But when the Colombian-born businessman was finally extradited to Miami last month following a bitter legal battle, media interest surged, with 300 journalists attending his first court appearance.

Goodman, the must-read reporter on corruption in Venezuela, beat all the competition with a major discovery: Saab, who has repeatedly sworn loyalty to President Nicolás Maduro, had been betraying the Venezuelan government for years in secret meetings with U.S. law enforcement. Goodman had previously heard about the meetingss from off-the-record sources, but here they were described in a court record that gave him cover to publish. Only Goodman, an ace on the labyrinthine federal courts record system, knew what to look for and could find it before a federal judge removed the document from the docket. Other news organizations were left scrambling to match the AP story.

This latest scoop followed Goodman’s recent reporting that Maduro’s government had quietly offered to swap six imprisoned American oil executives for Saab in a secret Mexico City meeting with a Trump administration envoy and controversial Blackwater founder Erik Prince.

With the assistance of AP media lawyer Brian Barrett, Goodman also pressed the Miami federal judge overseeing the criminal case for continued media access after Saab’s attorneys motioned for restrictions on Zoom hearings.

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