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Biden announces release of 7 US citizens detained in Venezuela

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Oct 03, 2022 - 12:38 AM

WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden announced the release of seven Americans on Saturday who had been imprisoned in Venezuela for years.

“Today, after years of being wrongfully detained in Venezuela, we are bringing home Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano, Jose Pereira, Matthew Heath, and Osman Khan. These individuals will soon be reunited with their families and back in the arms of their loved ones where they belong,” Biden said in a statement.

The president thanked officials from the Caracas administration who negotiated the release.

“To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained — know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,” he added.

Venezuela’s move comes months after a delegation from the US State Department traveled to Venezuela in June to hold talks.

“Although we celebrate the release of these U.S. nationals from Venezuela, we still have more work to do. The safety and security of Americans worldwide is my highest priority as Secretary of State, and we will continue to press for the release of all U.S. nationals wrongfully detained abroad,” said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Vadell, Toledo, Pereira and the two Zambranos and are five from a group collectively known as the “CITGO 6” American oil executives, who were arrested in 2017 on embezzlement charges. Two American who had been detained in Venezuela, including one of the CITGO 6, were released earlier this year after a visit by US government officials.

Heath, a former Navy man, was detained in Venezuela in September 2020, while Khan has been jailed since January.

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