CARACAS - US actor Sean Penn engaged in attempts to secure the release of two Americans freed by Iran this week, flying to Venezuela to ask President Hugo Chavez to intervene with Iran's leader, a source close to the release process said on Friday.
Since Tehran freed Josh Fattal and Shane Bauer on Wednesday details have emerged about the efforts to win their freedom, which involved the United Nations, Iraq and Oman -- as well as Chavez, who is a fiery critic of the United States.
Venezuela's deputy foreign minister told Reuters on Thursday that Chavez brought up the case with his Iranian ally Mahmoud Ahmadinejad after being alerted to the Americans' plight by friends in US "intellectual circles".
"The American 'intellectual' who took up the case with him was Sean Penn," the source told Reuters.
"Penn was very committed to the case ... He flew to Caracas several months ago to raise it with Chavez and he kept on it," the source said.