Pence calls for release of Americans held in Venezuela

WASHINGTON (AP) — Vice President Mike Pence is calling on Venezuela to immediately release six American oil executives jailed for more than a year without trial.

Pence says the five citizens and one legal permanent U.S. resident are being “illegally detained” by President Nicolas Maduro. But Pence also says their immediate release is unlikely until Maduro is no longer running the Venezuelan government.

Pence commented Tuesday as he met at the White House with relatives of the six. All work for Houston-based Citgo, a longtime U.S. subsidiary of the Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA. They were arrested in November 2017 on embezzlement charges after being summoned to Caracas for a last-minute meeting.

The United States and dozens of other countries support opposition leader Juan Guaido’s claim that Maduro’s re-election last year was illegitimate.

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