US releases ally of Venezuela’s President Maduro in a swap for 10 jailed Americans

by Shannon K. Crawford at

The Biden administration completed a prisoner swap with Venezuela Wednesday, granting clemency to one of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s close allies in exchange for the freedom of 10 Americans who had been jailed in the country and are now currently en route back to the U.S., the White House said.

“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.

As part of the deal, the White House said that Venezuela has also allowed notorious fugitive Leonard Glenn Francis or “Fat Leonard,” the mastermind behind the worst corruption scheme in the history of the U.S. Navy, to be taken into U.S. custody, and that it will release a high-profile member of the country’s opposition party charged with treason, free another 20 political prisoners as well as suspend arrest warrants for other opponents to Maduro.