CARACAS (CBSMiami/AP) — The unrest in Venezuela has led to the arrests of multiple Americans in the country. One Florida native, detained during this turmoil, was released after five years of imprisonment in Venezuelan jails.
Todd Leininger, 37, was arrested in April 2014 on what his family described 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 accused him of aiding the opposition during anti-government protests.
The Florida native is one of several Americans who have found themselves behind bars in Venezuela as the nation’s political and economic crisis deepens.
A Facebook page, “Bring Toddhome,” was created in March to help gain support for Leininger and spread the word to get him back home. Now, his family is happy to have him back home, alive and safe. His mother took to Facebook with the news of his release and their reunion.
“Thank you so much everyone for all the amazing messages, love and support. We are so very happy and grateful. Todd and my mom have reunited!! It was of course an emotional Reunion. It’s been a very long and emotional day. They are both very tired and are in the process of getting settled in Miami. We will continue to update ASAP.” said Stacy, Todd’s sister, on a Facebook post on the page.