Venezuela releases seven Americans in exchange for two relatives of President Maduro.
[Instant News/Comprehensive Report] Venezuela released 7 Americans on the 1st, including 5 senior executives of Citgo Petroleum (Citgo Petroleum), in exchange for 2 of the wife of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Moros Nephew jailed in the US for drug offenses.
Venezuela released seven Americans on Monday, in addition to U.S. Marine Corps veteran Matthew Heath and another U.S. citizen named Osman Khan, U.S. officials said, according to Reuters. It also includes five top oil executives in exchange for two nephews of the wife of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who were arrested in 2015 on drug charges.
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US President Joe Biden said in a statement that Americans "wrongly detained" could soon be reunited with their loved ones, "Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole again, all still suffering and wrongly detained. The relatives of those who were released need to know that we remain committed to securing their release," a senior official told Reuters in a telephone briefing that the released Americans were in stable condition and "delighted to be home."
The prisoners were transferred to an unspecified third-country airport after months of secret talks with Maduro's socialist government, a U.S. official said.
The government is subject to strict U.S. sanctions, including on the energy sectors of countries such as the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).
Biden approved a "swap" a few weeks ago to free the two Venezuelans to ensure the freedom of Americans.
U.S. officials have previously said privately that Maduro wanted to use the detainees as bargaining chips.
A senior administration official said the exchange, which Biden gave to the two Venezuelans, did not change Washington's policy toward Venezuela.
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