US delegation unable to secure release of Americans detained in Venezuela

The content originally appeared on: CNN

CNN

A US delegation that traveled to Venezuela this week was unable to secure the release of any of the Americans detained there.

US Special President Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens was able to meet with wrongfully detained Americans while in the capital city of Caracas and discussed “with senior Maduro regime officials the importance of ensuring that they receive appropriate care where needed,” a State Department spokesperson told CNN.

However, the visit by Carstens and Ambassador Jimmy Story, who heads the US’ Venezuelan Affairs Unit, ended Thursday without any of the Americans whom the US considers wrongfully detained being able to return home.

“We will continue to press for the immediate and unconditional release of all wrongfully detained US nationals in Venezuela at every opportunity,” the spokesperson said.

There are at least eight Americans currently known to be wrongfully detained in Venezuela – five of the six American oil executives known collectively as the “CITGO 6” – Tomeu Vadell, Jorge Toledo, Alirio Jose Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano and Jose Angel Pereira – along with Luke Denman, Airan Berry and Matthew Heath.

Heath, a US veteran who has been detained nearly two years on what the State Department calls “specious” charges, attempted suicide earlier this month. His aunt Trudy Rutherford said in a statement Thursday they “believe that Matthew’s physical and mental health both continue to be at risk and are fearful he may attempt suicide again.”

“While we are incredibly grateful for Ambassador Carstens and his team for having made this trip, it is important that there be continued, high level engagement between the U.S. Government centered around bringing Matthew and the other American detainees home,” she said.

“President Biden and President Maduro both stand to benefit from ending the ordeal for all of these Americans and their families and neither benefits from their prolonged detention,” Rutherford said.

Two Americans who had been detained in Venezuela, including one of the CITGO 6, were released in March following the visit of two top US government officials to Caracas.