The Biden administration completed a prisoner swap with the Venezuelan government on Wednesday, releasing an ally of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro in exchange for 10 Americans.
Alex Saab, a Maduro ally, is a Colombian businessman who was arrested in 2020 for his alleged role in a money laundering scheme involving the bribery of Venezuelan government officials.
“Today, ten Americans who have been detained in Venezuela have been released and are coming home, including all six wrongfully detained Americans,” President Joe Biden said in a statement Wednesday. “These individuals have lost far too much precious time with their loved ones, and their families have suffered every day in their absence. I am grateful that their ordeal is finally over, and that these families are being made whole once more.”
A senior administration official confirmed the Americans being released were Eyvin Hernandez, Jerrel Kenemore, Joseph Cristella, and Savoi Wright were among them.
The talks included Secretary of State Antony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and deputy national security adviser Jon Finer.
“We are grateful to the U.S. government for bringing Savoi home so quickly, to Mickey Bergman from the Richardson Center, to Jonathan Franks, who guided us the entire way, and to the many others who helped to bring Savoi home. We are forever grateful,” the Wright family said in a statement.
Also part of the deal, Leonard Francis, better known as “Fat Leonard,” was arrested and returned to the U.S.
“It looks good. It looks like Maduro so far is keeping his commitment to a free election. It ain’t done yet, we got a long way to go, but it’s good so far,” Biden said Wednesday as he was traveling to Wisconsin.
“We will not stop working until we bring them all home,” he said.