Saturday, January 28

Tennessean Matthew Heath freed from Venezuelan imprisonment

Matthew Heath, a former U.S. Marine corporal from Knoxville, Tennessee, who was arrested in 2020 at a roadblock in Venezuela on what the State Department has called “specious” weapons charges, was released today along with six other Americans imprisoned in the South American country.

In a rare softening of hostile relations, the White House said Saturday Venezuela freed the seven Americans and the United States released two nephews of President Nicholas Maduro’s wife who had been jailed for years on drug smuggling convictions.

The swap of the Americans, including five oil executives held for nearly five years, follows months of back channel diplomacy by Washington’s top hostage negotiator and other U.S. officials — secretive talks with a major oil producer that took on greater urgency after sanctions on Russia put pressure on global energy prices.

Retired Marine Matthew Heath of Knoxville, Tennessee, was arrested and charged on alleged terrorism charges in 2020 in Venezuela, was one of seven Americans freed in a prisoner swap with Venezuela.
Retired Marine Matthew Heath of Knoxville, Tennessee, who was arrested and charged on alleged terrorism charges in 2020 in Venezuela, has been freed along with six other Americans. (Photos courtesy of his family from before and during captivity).

Related:U.S. must do more to free Tennessee Marine detained in Venezuela | Opinion

Tennessee Senator Marsha Blackburn said in a tweet, “Praising God that after two long years, Matthew Heath has been released from prison in Venezuela. Please join me in continued prayer for Matthew and his family as he returns home to Tennessee and recovers.”

President Biden also commented on the release of the American prisoners saying in a statement, “Today, after years of being wrongfully detained in Venezuela, we are bringing home” the seven men, whom the president cited by name. “We celebrate that seven families will be whole once more.”

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