USA He demanded this Sunday the “immediate release” of the six former directors of the Venezuelan company Citgo who were transferred to prison on Saturday, allegedly in retaliation for the extradition to Miami of Alex Saab, supposed figurehead of Nicolás Maduro.
A spokeswoman for the US State Department assured Efe that she was aware of the imprisonment of the six executives, who have dual Venezuelan and US nationality, who were under house arrest in Venezuela after being convicted last year of corruption in that country. .
“We cannot confirm where they have been taken,” said the spokeswoman, who requested anonymity, after acknowledging that the former directors were jailed again.
The State Department “will continue to work to achieve the release of Americans unjustly detained in Venezuela,” because the safety of its citizens abroad is its “highest priority.”
“These six Americans and their families have already suffered too much. The United States continues to demand his immediate release and his return to the United States ”, the source concluded.
The former directors’ lawyer, María Alejandra Poleo, informed Efe this Saturday of the detention of her clients and said that they are at the headquarters of the Intelligence Service in Caracas (Sebin).
In a telephone conversation with Efe in Caracas, the lawyer said that the authorities informed her that they would be returned to the cells they formerly occupied when they were detained, accused of signing contracts that compromised the future of Citgo, a subsidiary of the Venezuelan state oil company PDVSA.
The detainees are José Pereira, Tomeu Vadell Recalde, Jorge Luis Toledo Kohury, Gustavo Adolfo Cárdenas Cardona, José Zambrano and Alirio Zambrano, and the case of the latter is of particular concern to the lawyer, because she suffers from a lung disease and must sleep connected to a oxygen machine.
The arrest took place after the extradition of Alex Saab -presumed front man of President Nicolás Maduro- from Cape Verde, where he had been detained for more than a year and a half, to the United States to be tried for crimes of corruption, a fact that Poleo relates to the return to prison of his clients.
“And as a consequence of the extradition of Alex Saab, again the six of Citgo are used as bargaining chips”, on Twitter the lawyer.
Saab He will appear this Monday before a judge in Miami, where he faces federal charges for having allegedly laundered up to 350 million dollars that he allegedly defrauded through the exchange control system in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan authorities have not yet ruled on the arrest of the six former directors of Citgo, who, on November 26, were sentenced to between 13 and almost nine years in prison for crimes related to corruption.
However, in April of this year they were issued a house arrest measure.
Citgo is the main oil refiner and marketer of gasoline, lubricant and petrochemicals that Venezuela has in the United States.