The American citizens detained in Venezuela asked the president of the North American nation, Joe Biden; that he initiate an agreement process so that they are exchanged for the diplomat Álex Saab, who is kidnapped in that country.
In accordance with NewsweekSources from both the United States (USA) and Venezuela did not rule out the possibility of carrying out said exchange.
The mentioned portal indicates that the letter was sent to President Biden and is signed by Eyvin Hernández, a Salvadoran-American lawyer who worked in the Los Angeles Public Defender’s Office, and was arrested by the Venezuelan authorities in the Venezuelan border area on March 31. of 2022.
In the letter, Hernández “states that his family has been informed of a possible agreement that would release him and other US citizens in exchange for the Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab.”
Specifically, Hernández suggests that not only would he be released in exchange for Saab, but that other US citizens held in Venezuela, including Jerrel Kenemore, Jason Saad and Joseph Cristella, could also be released.
Although neither the US nor Venezuela have confirmed the details of such an agreement, there is a recent precedent for the exchange of detainees despite the ongoing political dispute. Last October, Biden confirmed that he had signed the largest prisoner swap of his presidency in a deal with Maduro.
Asked if the Maduro administration was interested in a trade aimed at freeing Saab, a Venezuelan source who spoke on condition of anonymity because she is not authorized to speak to the media told Newsweek: “Yes, the Venezuelan authorities have expressed the desire for the release of Special Envoy Alex Saab” and that “the Venezuelan authorities have clearly indicated that they would like to see an exchange.”
The Venezuelan source said that this desire has been communicated to the US side in direct relation to the possibility of an exchange involving US citizens.
“The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has made it clear to relevant parties its desire to seek a peaceful resolution of issues with the United States, including an exchange of detained US citizens and special envoy Saab,” the Venezuelan source said.
Reached for comment, a Biden administration official speaking in the background told Newsweek that “the safety of the American people is our highest priority. The US government continues to work aggressively, using all available means, to bring home all American citizens.”
In November, a letter from California Senators Diane Feinstein and Alex Padilla urged Blinken to prioritize Hernandez’s safe return, and the following month, a letter signed by 22 members of Congress and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called for Biden to secure Hernandez’s release.
Campaigns dedicated to the release of Saab have also sprung up in Venezuela and other countries, gaining attention in official and grassroots circles.
Likewise, the Free Alex Saab Movement, human rights organizations and the Tunisian League, which recently nominated the Special Envoy of Venezuela for the Nobel Peace Prize, have shown their support for the case and have been campaigning for more than two years.
Alex Saab was appointed special envoy with diplomatic credentials by the Venezuelan government on April 9, 2018
On June 12, 2020, diplomatic passport in hand, Alex Saab was on his way from Caracas to Tehran to purchase food, medicine, and fuel in legal international trade. His plane was diverted to the Cape Verde island archipelago nation off the west African coast for a refueling stopover. There, in an egregious example of extraterritorial judicial overreach, the United States captured him without a warrant and imprisoned him.
On October 16, 2021, The US took him away without legal documents and without notification to his family or legal team, and was flown to Miami, where he remains in prison. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with Cape Verde.