Lawyers Maria Alejandra Poleo and Jesus Loreto told CNN that the six were released from prison Friday night in Caracas and were on their way home.
Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza retweeted a message on Friday, calling the release a good will as a “gesture”
Attorney Poleo told CNN that “we have been asking for a review of the jail order for a long time and we are pleased that the court decided to return to house arrest today.” She added: “We do not know what led to this decision by the court, but we consider it a political gesture of benevolence towards the United States.”
In a statement, the Richardson Center – led by the former government of New Mexico, Bill Richardson, who has acted as a non-governmental negotiator to lobby for the release of men – “We are easily heard today that Tomeu Vadell, Alirio Zambrano, Jose Luis Zambrano, Gustavo Cárdenas, Jorge Toledo and Jose Pereira, known as CITGO-6, have been released from prison and placed under house arrest in Venezuela, a positive and important step to help ensure their well-being during the COVID -19 outbreak in Venezuela. “
The group’s families welcomed the news and thanked those who had been involved in the efforts to get them released.
“We wish our beloved Tomeu was on a plane to the United States with unconditional freedom, but are very grateful for this positive step made possible by Government Richardson and his team, Sec. Blinken & the State Department, the Vatican and other allies around the world.” said the family to Tomeu Vadell in a statement.
The Zambrano family also welcomed the news, adding in a statement that the families had been concerned about “men’s health and well-being amid overcrowded prison conditions and the risks associated with the Corona virus.”
From CNN’s Stefano Pozzebon in Bogotá, Isa Soares in London and Jennifer Hansler in Washington DC.