Sen. Rubio Fears Venezuelan Prisoner Swap 'Puts Americans … in Danger'
By Nick Koutsobinas | Sunday, 02 October 2022 06:45 PM EDT
A recent prisoner swap between the United States and Venezuela puts Americans "in danger" worldwide, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said on Sunday.
During an interview with Dana Bash, host of CNN's "State of the Union," Rubio expressed concern that a prisoner swap involving two Venezuelan drug dealers exchanged for seven Americans held on trumped-up charges sets a dangerous precedent for future prisoner swaps.
"Well, the two Venezuelans that were released are the nephews of [Venezuela President Nicolás] Maduro who happen to be convicted drug dealers," Rubio told Bash. "They were put in jail after being convicted after a fair trial in the United States. Evidence was produced and it was overwhelming.
"The seven Americans were hostages. And here's my problem with it. That has now put a price tag on Americans. Every time you do one of these deals — and I wanted those people released as much as anybody. But every time you do this, now others know, I can take Americans, I can hold them until I need something as a bargaining chip.
"So what that has done is now sent a message to tyrants and dictators all over the world to go ahead and trump up some charges and arrest Americans, because, when the time comes, we will be able to exchange them," Rubio added.
"So I think seven innocent American hostages in exchange for two convicted drug dealers who happen to be the nephews of Maduro is a huge win for Maduro and, unfortunately, puts Americans all over the world now in danger."
According to The Hill, on Saturday, President Joe Biden stated that Venezuela freed seven U.S. residents who were asked to visit Venezuela for a business meeting in 2017 but were detained upon arrival and sentenced to eight years in prison on embezzlement charges.
In exchange, the U.S. released two nephews of Maduro's wife, Cilia Flores. The two dealers came under U.S. detainment after the Drug Enforcement Agency arrested them in a sting operation in Haiti in 2015. They were convicted a year later on drug trafficking charges in New York.
"I am grateful," Biden said in his statement, "for the hard work of dedicated public servants across the U.S. government who made this possible, and who continue to deliver on my administration's unflinching commitment to keep faith with Americans held hostage and wrongfully detained all around the world."