Rubio: Prisoner swap with Venezuela ‘puts Americans all over the world … in danger’
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said on Sunday that the recent prisoner swap between the U.S. and Venezuela puts Americans “in danger” worldwide.
“Well, the two Venezuelans that were released are the nephews of [Venezuela President Nicolás] Maduro who happen to be convicted drug dealers,” Rubio told host Dana Bash during an appearance on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “They were put in jail after being convicted after a fair trial in the United States. Evidence was produced and it was overwhelming.”
Rubio also said that the seven Americans involved in the swap were hostages.
“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,” Rubio added. “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.”
Rubio said that a message has been sent 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.”
“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.”
In a statement on Saturday, President Biden announced that Venezuela had freed seven U.S. residents who were asked to visit Venezuela for a business meeting in 2017 but were detained upon arrival in the country and were sentenced to prison for eight years for embezzlement charges.
The U.S., meanwhile, freed two nephews of Maduro’s wife, Cilia Flores. The two men were arrested in Haiti in a Drug Enforcement Agency sting in 2015 s and were convicted on drug trafficking charges a year later in New York.
“I am grateful 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,” Biden said in a statement.