CARACAS ( Associated Press) — The Venezuelan government has defended the detention of several Americans, rejecting a previous statement from the United States State Department on a Marine Corps veteran’s two-year prison sentence.
President Nicolas Maduro’s government said in a statement issued Saturday night that it would continue to enforce its laws and reiterated the “spaces and channels” open with Washington in seeking understanding on issues relevant to their bilateral relationship.
“It is unfortunate that the authorities of the United States, in complete disregard for the sovereignty and self-determination of the people, insist on their claim of providing an unacceptable immunity or marquee letter to their citizens,” the text said.
The government issued its remarks a day after the State Department said it would continue to pressure Maduro for the “immediate and unconditional release” of Matthew Heath and other Americans it believes are unjust in Venezuela. being taken into custody.
At least 10 men, including five oil executives and three military veterans, are being arrested in the South American country. UN officials have long complained about the lack of independence of Venezuelan judges and prosecutors and the conditions in the place where many Americans are being held.
In March, the Maduro government released two Americans after a surprise visit to Caracas by high-ranking White House and State Department officials. A subsequent visit in June did not result in the release of any detainees.
The State Department issued an advisory in July warning Americans to avoid all travel to Venezuela because of threats from illegal detention and illegal armed groups, particularly along the country’s porous borders.
Former US Marine Corps Corporal Heath was detained at a checkpoint in Venezuela in 2020 and charged with terrorism and spying for then US President Donald Trump. His family and supporters say he is innocent.
In its Friday statement, the State Department says Heath was detained on “misleading allegations.” His trial is going on.