December 8, 2022

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The United States and Venezuela, prisoner exchange: the grandson of Maduro’s wife to release 7 American prisoners

US President Joe Biden announced the release of seven US citizens imprisoned in Venezuela. The Americans will be released in exchange for two grandchildren of Celia Flores, wife Venezuelan President, Nicolas Maduroaccused of drug smuggling. “Today, after years of unjust imprisonment in Venezuela, we are bringing home Jorge Toledo, Tomio Fadel, Alirio Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano, Jose Pereira, Matthew Heath and Osman Khan,” Biden said in an official White House statement.

According to the American “Politico” website, which quoted administrative sources, the Americans were released in exchange for Maduro’s wife’s grandson, in what will indeed be the largest prisoner exchange concluded by the Biden administration. “We are pleased to be able to return to their families seven Americans who have been unjustly imprisoned for so long in Venezuela,” Politico quoted Undersecretary of Homeland Security Joshua Giltzer as saying.

Joe Biden

Joe Biden (handle)

Five of these Americans Former Directors of Citgo Oil CompanyHe was arrested in November 2017. Citgo is a subsidiary of state-owned PDVSA It is controlled by the current president of Venezuela, Opposition leader Juan Guaido. Among others, Matthew Heath, a former Tennessee Marine who was arrested in 2020 in Venezuela for firearms offenses, has been released. Usman Khan, a native of Florida, was arrested in January for entering Colombia illegally.

In return, the United States released Frankie Flores and his cousin Efrain Campo, Celia Flores’ grandchildren. Both were arrested in 2015 in Haiti in a drug operation and were immediately taken to New York for trial. The following year they were convicted of drug smuggling offenses. Biden has now pardoned them. At least four other Americans remain in detention in Venezuela, including two former “Green Berets” implicated in a coup attempt that was dismantled in 2019. The other detainees are reported to have entered Venezuela illegally from Colombia.

But in the United States, businessman Alex Saab is still in prison. The United States considers him a prominent figure in the Maduro regime. The latter, on the other hand, requests his release, which gives him a diplomatic qualification.

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