Today, ten Americans who have been detained in Venezuela have been released and are coming home, including all six wrongfully detained Americans. These individuals have lost far too much precious time with their loved ones, and their families have suffered every day in their absence. I am grateful that their ordeal is finally over, and that these families are being made whole once more.
Additionally, a fugitive named Leonard Francis, who fled the United States before he could be sentenced for his lead role in a brazen bribery and corruption case – was arrested and returned to the United States from Venezuela so that he will face justice for crimes he committed against the U.S. Government and the American people.
We are ensuring that the Venezuelan regime meets its commitments. They have announced an electoral roadmap – agreed to by opposition parties – for competitive Presidential elections in 2024. This a positive and important step forward. And today, they are releasing twenty political prisoners, on top of five released previously. We will continue to monitor this closely and take appropriate action if needed. We stand in support of democracy in Venezuela and the aspirations of the Venezuelan people.
As we welcome home our fellow citizens, I must also remind all Americans of the long-standing warning against traveling to Venezuela. Americans should not travel there.
Reuniting wrongfully detained Americans with their loved ones has been a priority for my Administration since day one. As is the return to the United States of fugitives from justice.
But even as we celebrate the return of these Americans, we also remain deeply focused on securing the release of the hostages in Gaza and wrongfully detained Americans around the world, including Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, who are being detained in Russia, and Americans in Afghanistan, Syria, and China. We will not stop working until we bring them all home.