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Venezuela and US announce prisoner swap — RT World News


US President Joe Biden said Venezuela has freed seven Americans, including five oil executives. In return, according to the Venezuelan government, Washington released two relatives of President Nicolas Maduro, who had “detained without cause“America.

Biden said that Washington has managed to negotiate the freedoms of Jorge Toledo, Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano, Jose Pereira, Matthew Heath and Osman Khan, who “wrongfully detained“In Venezuela for many years.

Five of these individuals are executives of Citgo Petroleum Corporation, jailed in 2017 on corruption charges. Another company executive, Gustavo Cardenas, was freed by Venezuelan authorities in March.

The other two who have been freed are former US Marine Matthew Heath, who was arrested on terrorism charges, and a Florida man, Osman Khan, detained for allegedly entering the country illegally from Colombia. .

In return, according to a US official, Biden pardoned Franqui Francisco Flores de Freitas and Efrain Antonio Campo Flores, both nephews of Maduro’s wife. In 2017, they were sentenced to 18 years in prison for conspiring to import cocaine into the US.

Maduro’s government claims that Caracas, based on the results of negotiations in March with the United States, has managed to free two of its citizens, who “unjust“Held in America, while Americans were released for”humanitarian reasons. “

The swap is said to have taken place at an airport in an unspecified third country, with a US official describing the decision to release the Venezuelans as particularly difficult. “The president made a difficult decision, a painful decision, and delivered something that the Venezuelan people have been actively seeking.“, the official told CNN, adding that”the only acceptable result“For Biden is to liberate Americans.

The exchange comes as the Biden administration appears to be seeking to mend relations with the South American nation. In early June, the US allowed some companies to start shipping Venezuelan oil to Europe. According to Reuters, at the time, the US hoped that oil from the sanctioned country would make the EU less dependent on Russia.

A few months ago, a group of senior US officials traveled to the oil-rich South American country to meet with Maduro’s government.

Although the agenda of the negotiations was unclear, the New York Times reported at the time that the Biden administration had sought to “separate Russia from remaining international allies“Amidst the Ukraine conflict.

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