US citizen released from Venezuelan prison after 5 year detention

US citizen released from Venezuelan prison after 5 year detention

An American man was released from a Venezuelan prison this week after being arrested in 2014 on alleged weapons trafficking and attempted murder charges.

NBC News reported Friday that Todd Leininger, 37, was released this week after prison authorities initially declined to comply with an official order securing his release.

Leininger had been arrested along with dozens of foreigners Venezuelan authorities claimed were "mercenaries" attempting to undermine the country's government.

Leininger, an Indiana native, is married to a Venezuelan woman. The couple was visiting her family when Leininger was arrested.


"This was a long and often heart-breaking journey, but I am so grateful to be reunited with my son," Barbara Leininger, his mother, told NBC.

A spokesman for the State Department told NBC that the Trump administration had been working to secure Leininger's release since he was ordered released in November, calling Friday's development "overdue." He has been in captivity since April 2014.

"Since that time we have been pressing for his return to the United States," a spokesman said of his arrest.

The U.S. withdrew all remaining diplomatic personnel from Venezuela last month as U.S.-Venezuela ties have all but evaporated following the Trump administration's decision to recognize opposition leader Juan Guaidó, the country's self-declared interim president, as the country's legitimate chief.

Nicolás Maduro, the country's official president, has vowed to remain in power in the face of Guaidó's interim government, which has won support from the U.S., Canada, and some European nations.