Biden announces return of seven American detainees from Venezuela

CNN —President Joe Biden on Saturday announced the return of seven Americans he said were wrongfully detained 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.
The seven American detainees were released in exchange for the release of two Venezuelans imprisoned in the US, both nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores.
Vadell, Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano, and Pereira are five of the six American oil executives known as the “CITGO 6” arrested in Venezuela more than four years ago.
Two Americans who had been detained there, including one of the CITGO 6, were released in March following the visit of two top US government officials to Caracas.
All seven individuals were classified by the US government as wrongfully detained.
A second senior official told reporters that US officials met with each of the seven individuals upon their release and are expected to receive further evaluation Saturday.
Biden spoke with each of the families to “share the good news of their release,” the first senior official said.
The official described the prisoner exchange with Venezuela as a “tough” and “painful” decision for Biden and the US government.
The President made a tough decision, a painful decision, and offered something that the Venezuelans have actively sought.
Biden, the first official said, “made the difficult decision to grant clemency” to both Flores and Campo.
The released Venezuelans and Americans were both flown to “a country in between Venezuela and the United States” for the exchange.
Roger Carstens, the special presidential envoy for hostage affairs, is with the freed Americans, the official added.