U.S. President Joe Biden announced the return of seven American detainees from Venezuela on Saturday. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 1 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden announced the return of seven Americans from Venezuela on Saturday, saying they had been wrongfully detained.
The seven American detainees were released in exchange for the release of two Venezuelans imprisoned in the US. Both of them are nephews of Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores.
"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 President said in a statement.
According to CNN, 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. Khan had been separately detained since January.
The detainees are in "stable health" and have been offered medical care, officials told CNN.
The two Venezuelan's that were released were convicted in 2016 of conspiring to smuggle more than 800 kilograms of cocaine into the United States. They were sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2017.
"Over the course of those negotiations, it became clear that one particular step was required to garner the only acceptable outcome: that of free Americans. The President made a tough decision, a painful decision, and offered something that the Venezuelans have actively sought," an official told CNN.