Lawyers Maria Alejandra Poleo and Jesus Loreto told CNN that the six were released from prison in Caracas on Friday evening and are on their way home.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza retweeted a message on Friday calling the release a “gesture” of goodwill to honor the “agenda of the new White House”. CNN has contacted a Venezuelan government spokesman for more information.
Poleo, the attorney, told CNN, “We have long requested a revision of the prison order and we applaud the fact that the court has decided to return to house arrest today.” She added, “We do not know what prompted this court decision, but we take it as a political gesture of goodwill towards the United States.”
In a statement, the Richardson Center – led by former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, who was a nongovernmental negotiator for the men’s release – said: “We are relieved to hear today that Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano , Gustavo Cárdenas, Jorge Toledo and Jose Pereira, known as CITGO-6, have been released from prison and placed under house arrest in Venezuela, a positive and important step to help ensure their well-being during COVID-19 Outbreak in Venezuela. “
The group’s families welcomed the news and thanked those involved in the efforts to secure their release.
“We would like our beloved Tomeu to fly with unconditional freedom in a plane to the USA, but we are very grateful for this positive step, Governor Richardson and his team, Sec. Blinken & the State Department, the Vatican and other allies in the Environment made the world possible, “Tomeu Vadell’s family said in a statement.
The Zambrano family also welcomed the news, adding in a statement that the families were concerned about the “health and well-being of men amid the overcrowded detention conditions and the risks associated with coronavirus.”
From CNNs Stefano Pozzebon in Bogotá, Isa Soares in London and Jennifer Hansler in Washington DC.