Venezuela has released 7 jailed Americans -Biden

Venezuela on Saturday released seven jailed Americans, including five oil executives, in exchange for the release of two relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, US officials said.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretary-General Haitham al-Ghais shake hands at the Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela September 14, 2022 (photo credit: REUTERS/LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA)
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) Secretary-General Haitham al-Ghais shake hands at the Miraflores Palace, in Caracas, Venezuela September 14, 2022
(photo credit: REUTERS/LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA)

Venezuela on Saturday released seven jailed Americans, including five oil executives, in exchange for the release of two relatives of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, US officials said.

"Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release,"

US President Joe Biden

The swap included executives of Citgo Petroleum held for years, in addition to US Marine veteran Matthew Heath and Osman Khan, the officials said. They were being exchanged for two of Maduro's wife's nephews, who had been jailed on drug charges, the officials said.

President Biden's response

President Joe Biden said in a statement that the "wrongfully detained" Americans "will soon be reunited with their families and back in the arms of their loved ones where they belong."

Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden reacts during a televised townhall on CNN dedicated to LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, California, US October 10, 2019.  (credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)Democratic 2020 US presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden reacts during a televised townhall on CNN dedicated to LGBTQ issues in Los Angeles, California, US October 10, 2019. (credit: REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)

"Today, we celebrate that seven families will be whole once more. To all the families who are still suffering and separated from their loved ones who are wrongfully detained – know that we remain dedicated to securing their release," Biden said.

The release followed secretive talks between the United States and Maduro's government, which is under strict US sanctions, including on the OPEC nation's energy sector.

It comes at a time when Washington has come under heavy pressure to do more to secure freedom for dozens of Americans held abroad, including in Russia.