Biden announces Venezuela's release of seven US detainees

Biden announces Venezuela's release of seven American detainees


US President Joe Biden announced in a statement on Saturday the release by Venezuela of seven American prisoners “after years of wrongful detention”.

“ Today, after years of wrongful detention in Venezuela, we bring home Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano, Jose Pereira, Matthew Heath and Osman Khan,” said Joe Biden.

The seven are “currently en route to their homes and families in the United States,” a senior White House official said in a press conference call.

The The first five detainees cited by the US president are former executives of the oil company Citgo – four Americans born in Venezuela and a Venezuelan with permanent resident status in the United States – accused of corruption and sentenced to imprisonment ranging from eight to thirteen years. 

A sixth of the Citgo company, Gustavo Ca rdenas, who was vice president responsible for strategic relations at this US subsidiary of Venezuela's state-owned oil company PDVSA, was released in March.

Since their arrest in 2017, they have lived with the fluctuations of the relations between Caracas and Washington. 

This case has further strained relations between Venezuela and the United States, which has repeatedly called for the release of the defendants. The NGO Foro Penal, a specialist in human rights and the prison world, classifies the six detainees from Citgo among the 251 “political prisoners” in Venezuela.