Concerns for Detained U.S. Persons in Venezuela

U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesperson

For Immediate Release

Statement by Robert Palladino, Deputy Spokesperson

March 22, 2019

Concerns for Detained U.S. Persons in Venezuela

The United States is gravely concerned about the welfare and safety of all U.S. persons detained in Venezuela, and by reports of Venezuelan prison officials preventing attorneys and families of detained U.S. citizens from delivering food and denying routine communication. We will hold Maduro and his prison officials to account for their safety and well-being.

The former Maduro regime is incapable of providing adequate nutrition to detainees in its prison system. We call on security forces and prison officials to allow the U.S. detainees to receive supplementary dietary assistance through their families or attorneys, to ensure they have access to medical care, and to afford these individuals a fair and transparent judicial process.

In one case, Maduro’s broken judicial system has detained five dual U.S. citizen CITGO employees in Venezuela – along with one U.S. legal permanent resident – for more than a year without a scheduled hearing or any semblance of a fair and transparent judicial process. We understand these men are suffering from chronic health conditions related to their incarceration and inhumane treatment.

In another case, Venezuelan prison authorities have refused to release U.S. citizen Todd Leininger, even though a Venezuelan court ordered him released on November 5, 2018.

Maduro loyalists continue to prevent our prisoners’ families and attorneys from assisting with basic access to food and medicine, while toying with their mental health and general wellbeing.

The safety and welfare of U.S. persons overseas is among the highest priorities of the Department of State. The Department of State continues to press the Venezuelan authorities for their assurance of the safety and welfare of U.S. persons detained in Venezuela.