Tennessee family calls for U.S. government to show more urgency in release of former Marine

Matthew Heath
Matthew Heath(DC Bureau)
Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 4:34 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Matthew Heath, a former Marine, is still being “wrongly detained” in Venezuela according to the U.S. Department of State. The State Department called the terrorism charges against Heath specious, and said it’s relentlessly pursuing his release.

Wednesday, in Washington DC, Heath’s family attended a mural unveiling to raise more awareness about his case.

Connie Haynes, Heath’s mother, said, “my son is not going to survive if our government does not get him home. I don’t know how much more he can endure.”

Hayes detailed eight days of torture she says her son endured in Venezuela, and she said the torture continues.

She told reporters, “He did, as you learned, tried to commit suicide, which thank God that was unsuccessful.”

Heath’s image is displayed on this mural in the Georgetown neighborhood in Washington, D.C. Creators say the mural represents 18 of the 64 Americans being held hostage or wrongly detained abroad. The mural unveiling was organized by ‘The Bring Our Families Home Campaign.’ Artist Issac Campbell created the mural.

Haynes said, “I hope it brings awareness to the urgency of getting Matthew home.”

Roger Carstens, the U.S. State Department’s Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, is working on the release of Americans being held hostage or wrongly detained abroad. At the press conference Carstens said, “I can assure you that the Biden-Harris administration and Secretary Blinken, they are committed to getting these people home.”

Heath’s family said Carstens has visited Heath in Caracas, Venezuela.

Heath’s uncle, Everett Rutherford, said he wants the Biden Administration to use every tool they have access to and bring Heath back to the United States.

Rutherford said, “For every single country, for every single hostage that is wrongly detained, you can find something that will work. We’re not sure that they’re looking hard enough for those solutions.”

Heath was arrested in Venezuela in September of 2020. Wednesday’s event marked 680 days of what the U.S. State Department calls “wrongful detention.”

A fundraising page for Heath’s family is available at https://www.givesendgo.com/gwvp

Heath’s family told the Gray Television’s Washington News Bureau that they are paying for all of Heath’s living expenses, including bedding and food, while he is detained by the Venezuelan government.

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