Family members of six former Citgo executives detained in Venezuela told KPRC 2 they were informed on Dec. 9 their loved ones were moved from the basement of the country’s counter-intelligence compound to “house arrest.” The men have been detained in Venezuela for more than two years.
“They’ve been in terrible, horrendous conditions. They’ve been literally in an overcrowded and unsanitary basement for two years now," said Gabriela Zambrano Hill, who’s father, Alirio Zambrano, is among the detainees. "So, now their situation has gone from downright dangerous to tolerable and that is just an immense relief to our family.”
Zambrano Hill said she believes the six men are now being held in separate apartments. As KPRC 2 reported in October, all six men were detained in November 2017 after being called to a last-minute meeting in Venezuela.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has accused the men of everything from embezzlement to trying to refinance Citgo’s debt in a way unfavorable to the Venezuelan people. Citgo is owned by Petroleos de Venezuela or PDVSA.
Family members said the men have never been given their day in court and the Maduro regime has not produced any evidence of wrongdoing. In fact, Zambrano Hill said another hearing on the criminal charges was scheduled for Dec. 2, but it was canceled without explanation.
“It has just been countless times that they’ve been denied hearings,” said Zambrano Hill. “They still have not had their due process in any sense.”
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn and the U.S. Department of State have all called for the “release of the wrongfully detained Citgo 6."
Citgo also released a statement to KPRC 2:
“After more than two long years, this development is welcome news, and an important step in the journey towards reuniting these men with their families. As a company, CITGO will continue to pray for their safety and well-being and supports the U.S. Government’s efforts to secure their full release.”
More information on the Citgo 6 Coalition can be found here.