Venezuela releases seven American prisoners in exchange for two detained Venezuelan nationals

Americans had been imprisoned there up to five years.

Updated: October 1, 2022 - 3:11pm

Venezuelan authorities freed seven American prisoners there this week in exchange for two detained Venezuelan nationals related to the country's president by marriage. 

Nicolás Maduro's government released the U.S. citizens from custody on Saturday. Some of them, including several Citgo employees, had been jailed in the country since 2017. 

In exchange Venezuela received the release of cousins Franqui Flores and Efrain Campo, the nephews of Cilia Flores, Maduro's wife. They had been seized in a Drug Enforcement Administration operation in Haiti in 2015, convicted and jailed shortly thereafter. 

The American oil officials had been convicted last year of purported embezzlement; they were facing up to 13 more years in Venezuelan prisons before the release on Saturday. 

President Joe Biden on Saturday hailed the release, saying in a statement that the U.S. "celebrate[s] 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.