Prisoner Swap: US Announces Return of Seven Jailed Americans From Venezuela As It Frees Two Venezuelans In Return

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Making the announcement on Saturday, Biden stated “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.”

United States president, Joe Biden, has announced the return of seven Americans whom he said were wrongfully imprisoned in Venezuela for “years”.

Making the announcement on Saturday, Biden stated: “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.”

The seven jailed Americans were freed in exchange for the release of two Venezuelans – nephews of President Nicolás Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores – who were imprisoned in the United States for years on drug smuggling conspiracy convictions.

Biden, who spoke with each of the families to “share the good news of their release,” also thanked members of his administration for their hardwork in ensuring the release of the detained men.

Further speaking, he said: "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."

US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who welcomed the release of the seven detainees also congratulated the State Department personnel for "their tireless efforts to achieve this outcome."

He further said: "Although we celebrate the release of these US 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 US nationals wrongfully detained abroad.”

Vadell, Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano, and Pereira are five of the six American oil executives known as the "CITGO 6". Two Americans who had been detained in the country, including one of the CITGO 6, had been released in March following the visit of two top US government officials to Caracas.

Heath, a marine veteran, was detained in September 2020 while Khan was detained since January 2022. The oil executives, who were arrested in Venezuela more than four years ago, were convicted of embezzlement charges and all seven individuals were classified by the US government as wrongfully detained.