Los Angeles attorney jailed in Venezuela pleads for Biden administration’s help

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A Los Angeles man who has spent the last five months detained in a Venezuela prison is calling on the Biden administration to help secure his release and urging the president not to forget about him.

“No one should be abandoned at the time of their greatest need and when they’re most vulnerable,” Eyvin Hernandez, who was arrested in Venezuela on March 31, told the Associated Press in a jailhouse recording earlier this month. “However, I don’t feel like my government feels that way about me.”

Hernandez was arrested along the Colombia-Venezuela border days before he was scheduled to return to the United States from vacation. His family says he traveled there from the city of Medellin with a Venezuelan friend who needed to get her passport stamped to resolve an issue with her migratory status in Colombia. 

Upon arrival by bus to the Colombian city of Cucuta, they hailed a taxi for the short drive to the Simon Bolivar International Bridge, according to an account Hernandez shared with his family. A fourth individual hopped in the front seat, purportedly offering his services as a guide who could help them navigate the confusion at the border, an area overrun by squatters, criminal gangs and a mass of people making their way back and forth in illegal crossings.

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Before they knew it, the cab was stopped along a dirt path, and the two were ordered to get out and walk across the invisible border separating the two countries.

Once Hernandez realized his mistake, it was too late to turn back. A man carrying a rifle demanded that he cough up $100, according to his family. When he protested that he didn’t have any cash, they put a hood over his head.

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When his captors found his American passport, they told him he was in trouble and handed him over to security forces, who he says kept him incommunicado for weeks on “criminal association” and “conspiracy” charges.

Hernandez also says that there are at least ten other Americans being held in Venezuela, including five oil executives and three veterans, who feel “like our government has abandoned us.”

The 44-year-old Hernandez, who has spent the last 15 years as an employee of the Los Angeles County public defender’s office, says it’s been months since he or any of his fellow Americans have seen a courtroom, nor do they have any hopes of getting a fair trial.

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A State Department spokesperson confirmed the arrest of a U.S. citizen in 2022 to Fox News Digital and said the department is in touch with the family and “closely monitoring” the situation. The spokesperson would not comment further due to “privacy considerations.”

Hernandez, who could spend up to 16 years in jail if convicted, said the uncertainty, isolation and human rights violations are taking a toll, with two Americans having already attempted suicide and a third on the brink with daily mental breakdowns.

“If you don’t get us out soon, then there might not be anyone left to save,” he said.

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In July, Biden last month signed an executive order aimed at providing more information to families of Americans detained abroad and imposing stiff sentences on the criminals, terrorists and government officials holding them.

In conjunction with the new executive order, the State Department will update its travel advisory risk indicator to include a “D” for wrongful detention abroad, in an effort to inform Americans and highlight the countries where there is an “elevated risk” of wrongful detention.

Senior administration officials said that the State Department will slap a “D” indicator on China, Iran, Russia, Burma, North Korea and Venezuela.

At least three of the 11 other Americans known to be detained in Venezuela are in a similar state of limbo. They include Jerrel Kenemore, a computer programmer arrested within a week of Hernandez, and two former Green Berets who took part in a blunder-filled beach attack in 2020 aimed at overthrowing Maduro.

Additionally, Hernandez’s plea for help comes at the same time that WNBA star Britney Griner’s detention in Russia has received worldwide attention with prominent figures across the globe calling on the Biden administration to secure her release.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News Digital.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report

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