The Alex Saab case re-highlights the plight of American prisoners worldwide

Editor at National Perspectives

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Helicoide jail in Venezuela.Telemundo TV

Venezuela is holding nine Americans and only today did the U.S. Department of State start re-reviewing those cases at high levels. More family and friends of the jailed Americans are "up in arms" over the extradition of Alex Saab because many believed he would be traded back to his country for Americans.

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Matthew Health Venezuelan PrisonerAssociated Press

Family of American prisoners have written letters to the Biden Administration and published op-eds. Trudy Rutherford wrote for the Tennessean the day before Saab was abducted by the U.S. Department of Justice, "My nephew, Matthew Heath, is one of at least nine Americans who are being wrongfully detained by the Maduro regime in Venezuela. You might think that makes me angry with Venezuela – and it does – but I am equally frustrated at my own government. U.S.President Joe Biden has been in office for more than 260 days, and to date, no member of the U.S. government has engaged in direct talks with any Venezuelan official about freeing Matthew or any of the other Americans currently sitting in Venezuelan jails. - Alex Saab could be extradited to the U.S. at any point, and we are fearful that it could provoke a negative reaction toward Matthew and the others."

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Citgo 6 - Americans in Venezuela PrisonTelundo

Other Americans jailed include six oil executives who worked for Venezuela’s state-owned oil company PDVSA, convicted and sentenced last year for allegedly "planning" to embezzle funds from Citgo’s bonds. Former U.S. Marine Matthew Heath's trial will start soon on weapons charges, and former Green Berets Luke Denman and Airan Berry are detained in either the infamous Helicoide jail or Fuerte Tiuna military base in Caracas, Venezuela.

Many other family members are holding out hope that the U.S. government will support the return of their loved ones. Most recently, 16 Americans were kidnapped by a gang in Haiti, but there is also Austin Tice.

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Austin TiceInternational Democracy Org

In 2012, Austin, the winner of a Polk Award for war reporting, was on assignment for McClatchy News and The Washington Post. He'd traveled to Syria to report on the uprising before his last year at Georgetown University and was kidnapped. Last month Blinken finally broke his silence on the case, “Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs Roger Carstens and the broader team are working diligently and around the clock to bring Austin back to his family.”

Other American Hostages Include

2015 - Siamak Namazi, a Dubai-based businessman with dual US and Iranian citizenship, is detained while visiting relatives in Tehran.

2016 - Kai Li, a naturalized US citizen born in China, is detained while visiting relatives in Shanghai.

2018 - Paul Whelan, from Michigan, a retired Marine and private industry security director, was arrested on accusations of spying. His family says he was in Moscow to attend a wedding.

2019 - While visiting a girlfriend, Trevor Reed was arrested in Russia after a night of heavy drinking, according to state-run news agency TASS, and remains behind bars.

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