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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local man says he’s both happy and relieved to hear that the mother of a Pittsburgh Pirates catcher is now safe after she was recently kidnapped in the country where he was born and raised.

Luis Granes – a native of Venezuela – is now an American citizen who lives in O’Hara Township. He spent much of the day Sunday trying to sort out conflicting stories, rumors and tweets on the internet about last week’s kidnapping of the 72-year-old Ana Soto, the mother of Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Elias Diaz.

 

But late Sunday on the internet, there was official word from an independent Venezuelan newspaper that Soto was rescued, and six people, including five police officers, had been arrested in connection with the abduction last Thursday.

On Monday, Pirates President Frank Coonelly released the following statement:

“The Pittsburgh Pirates are relieved and overjoyed to learn that Elias Diaz’ mother, Ana Soto, has been rescued and safely reunited with her family. We are incredibly grateful for the swift and effective work of the local law enforcement officials in Venezuela who brought this terrifying act to the safe conclusion for which we had all prayed. As an organization, we will continue to support Elias and his family as they move forward together.”

Watch John Shumway’s report —

 

“What I found out is that one of the cops was a neighbor, family-related to Elias, I think,” Granes said. “He was the one providing all the inside information for these guys to act.”

Why is it so difficult to get news and information out of Venezuela? Granes says it’s because of the government crackdown on the free press.

“The government has seized control of almost every media… radio station, TV station, and newspapers,” Granes said. “There are very few that are still not under the control of the government.”

Granes would still like to go back to Venezuela because he has relatives there, but he’s reluctant to make the trip because he’s now an American citizen.

“They won’t let me walk into the country with an American passport. Why? Because if I enter with an American passport, they have to let me go,” Granes said. “They want me to enter with a Venezuelan passport. Why? ‘Cause they would stamp my entrance. They could then confiscate my passport, take it away, and I cannot leave the country.”