Trump administration ‘seriously concerned’ about fate of American prisoners in Venezuela

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Mark Toner, US State Department spokesman, appears on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria GPS to discuss the Venezuelan situation, North Korea and the US relationship with South Korea. Watch the full interview here.

The US State Department said Tuesday the United States was “seriously concerned” about the wellbeing of a group of US citizens who remain detained in Venezuela following their arrests last week by military personnel, adding that it hoped to re-establish contact with them soon.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said officials had been in touch with relatives of three Americans, citing “ongoing efforts to secure their immediate release.”

President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government arrested the three amid allegations that they wanted to overthrow him by force. Venezuela’s national assembly has declared them political prisoners and they have been charged with treason and criminal association.

“The Venezuelan government has every right to detain these three individuals, however, on behalf of all Americans, we hope these Americans are released in a timely manner and return home to their families as soon as possible,” Nauert said in a statement.

“We call on the Venezuelan government to provide immediate access to the three individuals so they can receive appropriate medical care, while we continue to seek any opportunity to re-establish contact with them.”

Speaking Monday on CNN’s “New Day,” Nauert said “our prayers go out to the families and friends of the Americans that are held in detention.”

“The US government has the utmost respect for Venezuela’s judicial process, and we are aware of the ongoing judicial proceedings. Unfortunately, at this point, we are unable to comment further on the case,” she said.

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