An American man detained during a wave of unrest in Venezuela has been freed after being held for five years.
Todd Leininger, 37, of Bloomington, Ind. was arrested in April 2014 on what his family describes as trumped-up charges. He was released Thursday.
A senior Venezuelan official characterized the release as a gesture aimed at improving U.S. relations.
The U.S. State Department is calling Leininger’s release “overdue,” noting a Venezuelan court ordered him freed in November.
Venezuelan officials have accused him of aiding the opposition during anti-government protests.
Leininger is one of several Americans who have found themselves behind bars in Venezuela as the nation’s political and economic crisis deepens.
Joshua Holt was released after being held for over two years. Five Citgo oil executives who are U.S. citizens remain detained.
U.S. Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) issued the following statement Friday:
“After five years, I am relieved that Todd has finally been allowed to return to the United States, and I look forward to welcoming him home to Indiana. It is shameful that it took the Venezuelan authorities almost a year to recognize the rule of law and release Todd as ordered by a Venezuelan court. My prayers are with Todd and his mother Barbara as they are reunited. My office will continue to provide any assistance needed as they work to move past this difficult period.”