State Watch

Freed American prisoner’s daughter knocks Rubio for criticism of swap

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
Greg Nash
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) speaks to reporters as he arrives to the Capitol for a series of nomination votes on Thursday, September 8, 2022.

A daughter of one of the seven Americans released through a prisoner exchange between the United States and Venezuela is calling out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for his criticism of the reported swap.

Rubio, in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, told co-anchor Dana Bash that the recent prisoner swap between the two countries put Americans “in danger” worldwide. He added that the exchange also sends a message to other world leaders to go ahead and use trumped-up charges to arrest Americans so that they could be swapped in the future.

Alexandra Forseth, the daughter of Alirio Zambrano, called the remarks “misinformed.”

“I find that those comments were extremely unhelpful and misinformed. He is — I’m disappointed that a leader in our country is perpetuating this myth that getting our people home actually puts Americans at risk,” Forseth said during an appearance on CNN’s “New Day.”

Forseth’s uncle, Jose Luis Zambrano, was also released as part of the deal.

“And, you know, what I would ask Sen. Rubio is you’ve supported getting them home, you have done absolutely nothing for me or my family or most of these men, and any of the families can tell you that,” Forseth added. 

She called the Rubio remarks “unpatriotic and unhelpful.” 

Prisoner exchanges have come under criticism in the past. Rubio argued that the swap put a “price tag” on Americans.

“Every time you do one of these deals — and I wanted those people released as much as anybody,” Rubio told Bash. “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.”

The two Zambranos were among the seven U.S. residents freed by Venezuelan authorities as part of the deal. They had spent years in detainment after initially visiting the country in 2017 for a business meeting. 

In return, the U.S. freed two nephews of Venezuela President Nicolás Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores. They had been arrested in Haiti in a Drug Enforcement Agency sting operation in 2015 and were convicted on drug trafficking charges a year later. 

In a statement on Saturday, President Biden said that he’s grateful for the work of government officials who helped to return the seven Americans home, noting that his administration will continue to deliver on their promise to bring home U.S. residents wrongfully detained in other countries.

Tags Biden CNN Marco Rubio Marco Rubio Nicolás Maduro Prisoner exchange prisoner swap United States Venezuela

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