CARACAS – Two of the six US executives of state-owned oil company PDVSA’s arm CITGO deprived of liberty by the regime of Nicolás Maduro were granted house arrest on Thursday, just two weeks after the humanitarian visit of Bill Richardson, New Mexico’s former governor, to Venezuela with the aim of acting as intermediary between the two governments in a bid to release the American political prisoners from prison.
Gustavo Cárdenas and Jorge Toledo, part of the so-called “CITGO 6,” were detained in an overcrowded Venezuelan prison more than two years ago while making a business trip to Caracas, the country’s capital.
Richardson was the first to announce the good news via his personal Twitter account and subsequently in a statement issued late on Thursday.
“We are relieved to hear that Gustavo Cárdenas and Jorge Toledo, two of the #CITGO6, have been released from prison and granted house arrest in Venezuela. This is a positive and important first step. We are grateful to President Nicolás Maduro,” he wrote on Twitter.
All of the six executives had been granted house arrest late last year before putting them back into custody two months later after a decision of the Venezuelan regime.
The men were arrested in November 2017 after having been charged with carrying out a proposal to refinance $4 billion in CITGO bonds offering a 50% stake of the company as collateral.
The other four executives remaining in prison are Tomeu Vadell, José Luis Zambrano, Alirio Zambrano and José Pereira.
In other news, a New York court ruled on Friday not to reveal the identity of a witness who testified as an expert in the legal case filed by the CITGO Petroleum Corp. board of directors against a group of 2020 PDVSA bondholders who also hold a 50.1% stake of the company as collateral.
On July 7, the plaintiffs designated by the interim government of Juan Guaidó requested the Court to force the bondholders to publicly reveal the identity of the witness in order to ensure greater transparency of the legal process. Three days later, the defendants made their own request before the Court to keep the name of the witness in secret for security reasons.