Prisoner swap between Venezuela and the United States takes place on Canouan
Canouan airport, Canouan, St Vincent and the Grenadines (photo credit Argyle International Airport)
Breaking News
October 1, 2022
Prisoner swap between Venezuela and the United States takes place on Canouan

A swap of prisoners between the Venezuelan and United States governments took place today on Canouan in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

Venezuela freed seven jailed Americans, including five oil executives, in exchange for the release of two nephews of the wife of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, United States (US) officials said.

Senior US officials said today, October 1, that “the transfer took place in a country between the US and Venezuela after the men in the deal arrived in separate planes.”

The “country between the US and Venezuela” is St Vincent and the Grenadines, SEARCHLIGHT has learned.

An official involved in the security arrangements on the Grenadine island said tight security was provided by the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force at the Canouan airport where the swap took place.

The Vincentian official said the operation was carried out with the full cooperation of the “highest levels of Government” in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The swap included executives of Citgo Petroleum who had been held for years, in addition to US Marine veteran Matthew Heath and another American citizen named Osman Khan, US officials said. They were exchanged for two of Maduro’s wife’s nephews, who had been jailed in the US on drug charges.

The release followed secretive talks between the United States and Maduro’s government, which is under strict US sanctions, including on the OPEC nation’s energy sector, Reuters reported.

It comes at a time when Washington has come under heavy pressure to do more to secure freedom for dozens of Americans held abroad, including in Russia.

The freed Americans were all in “stable health” and on their way home, a senior Biden administration official later told reporters in a telephone briefing.

Reuters said Biden approved the exchange weeks ago, making a “tough decision, a painful decision” that the release of the two Venezuelans was essential to securing the Americans’ freedom.

The prisoner swap, which included Biden granting clemency to the two Venezuelans, has not altered US policy toward Venezuela, another senior administration official said.