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American Imprisoned in Venezuela for Five Years Released to Family

An American who had been held by the Venezuelan government for five years is now back in the United States with his family, ABC News reports. Todd Leininger, who was held on what the State Department called “trumped up” arms trafficking and attempted murder charges, was released from prison on Wednesday, and flown to Miami on Thursday where he met his family. “Over the past five years, all I have hoped and worked for is Todd’s safe return home. This was a long and often heart-breaking journey, but I am so grateful to be reunited with my son and to have him back home in Indiana," Leininger's mother, Barbara, said in a statement. Leininger's family also stated that he suffered from “mental and physical illnesses and extreme conditions” during his imprisonment, including lack of food and medicine. The State Department called Leininger's release “overdue,” and called upon Venezuela to release the other U.S. citizens it has in its custody—which could be as many as a dozen. This comes amid strained relations between the U.S. and Venezuela, as the U.S. has recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the country's head—rather than President Nicolas Maduro.