Family seeking answers for East Tennessee man imprisoned in Venezuela

Local News

UNION COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – The family of Matthew Heath is hoping to get some answers in the coming days about his imprisonment in Venezuela.

Heath’s family was shocked the Union County native was being accused by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro of being a terrorist and spying for former U.S. President Donald Trump.

RELATED STORY: ‘We definitely knew something was wrong,’ says family of Knoxville man imprisoned in Venezuela

Heath’s mother, Connie Haynes, provided an update on his current status in the South American country Sunday night.

Haynes said Heath was supposed to have a court date on Wednesday, Feb. 17. She explained that court date was postponed and a new date was scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 24.

“We hope to have an update then,” Haynes said. She added that if the court date happens, they hope to know something either this coming Wednesday night or Thursday morning.

According to Haynes, the family was told they could only send letters to Heath now, asking either about his health or telling him hello.

“We were told we can not relay any other information,” she said.

Haynes said the family is getting updates from Heath’s private lawyer, and they haven’t heard from him in six months, since his imprisonment.

Heath’s mother also said the family has reached out to the President Maduro, but has not heard back as of Sunday, Feb. 21.

Support from Heath has also come from Republican U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann

U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (R-3rd District)

The East Tennessee U.S. Rep. recently issued a statement following Heath’s postponed trial date.

“We are approaching six months since Matthew Heath was unjustly detained by the Maduro regime in Venezuela. My office is monitoring developments from today’s hearing and I remain deeply concerned about Mr. Heath’s ability to receive due process. The Maduro regime has not been transparent about this case or adhered to international norms for this court case. My office remains in contact with the Heath family, the Department of State, and the United States Embassy in Bogotá, Colombia. I will continue to monitor this case and push for Mr. Heath’s release so that he can be safely reunited with his family here in East Tennessee,” Fleischmann said in a news release.

Heath’s family previously told WATE 6 On Your Side they truly don’t know what led up to his arrest, but they believe he was an American citizen in the wrong place at the wrong time and was taken advantage of in the country.

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