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Biden announces return of seven Americans detained from Venezuela





CNN

President Joe Biden announced on Saturday the return of seven Americans he said had been illegally detained in Venezuela for “many years”.

“Today, after years of wrongful detention 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 returned to the arms of their loved ones where they belong,” the president said in a statement.

Vadell, Toledo, Jose Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano and Pereira are 5 of them six American oil executives known as “CITGO 6” was arrested in Venezuela more than four years ago. Two Americans once detained there, including one from CITGO 6, were released in March following a visit by two top US government officials to Caracas. Heath, a Marine veteran, was detained in September 2020. Khan has been in custody since January 2022.

Biden said seven Americans will be reunited with their families “soon” as he thanked members of his administration working to free them.

“To all the families who are still grieving and separated from their loved ones who are being wrongly detained – know that we remain dedicated to ensuring their release. ,” he said.

A State Department spokesperson released them months after a US government delegation quietly traveled to Venezuela “to discuss the welfare and safety of US citizens in Venezuela”. told CNN at that time.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the release of the seven detainees and congratulated State Department employees for “their tireless efforts to achieve this result.”

“While we celebrate the release of these US citizens from Venezuela, we still have a lot of work to do. The safety and security of Americans around the world is my highest priority as Secretary of State, and we will continue to press for the release of all wrongfully detained US citizens. left abroad,” he said in a statement.

This story has been updated with additional response.

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