Venezuela ‘hostage’ flying home to meet family at White House

Frederick Owens
May 27, 2018

A Utah man jailed in Venezuela on weapons charges almost two years ago was released Saturday after US officials and his family pressed for his freedom from the South American country.

According to a statement by Senator Orrin Hatch, "I'm pleased to announce that after two years of hard work, we've secured the release of Josh and Thamy Holt, who are now on their way home to the United States from Venezuela". Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and close allies of Maduro.

President Trump celebrated the development in some tweets Saturday as the newly released couple are expected to land in D.C. this evening. "The great people of Utah are Celebrating!" tweeted Mr. Trump.

Venezuelan authorities arrested Holt in June 2016 while he was in Venezuela for his wedding, and he was held without trial at the headquarters of intelligence agency Sebin, a Caracas complex known as the Helicoide.

Earlier in May, Holt made an emotional plea for Americans' help in getting him out of the Caracas jail, saying in a clandestinely shot video that his life was threatened during a riot in the country's most-notorious prison.

The newlyweds were awaiting visas when Venezuelan police raided their apartment and arrested them on charges of terrorism, espionage and illegal possession of weapons.

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"We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle", Mr. Holt's family said in a statement.

The Maduro government has yet to comment on the reasons for the release.

Hatch says Holt's wife had also been released.

U.S. authorities had been denied access to a court hearing on Holt's case in December, with Trump labelling the United States citizen a "hostage" of the Venezuela administration. "I want to particularly thank Caleb McCarry, whose expertise and effort in Venezuela on my behalf has been instrumental in bringing Josh home".

Joshua Holt, who traveled to Venezuela from Utah in 2016 to marry a Spanish-speaking Mormon woman but soon found himself jailed and later branded the CIA's top spy in Latin America, was set free by the anti-American Maduro government on Saturday in what his family called "this miracle".

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