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American Imprisoned in Venezuela is Feted at White House Following His Release

29 May 2018

President Donald Trump met with recently released American Josh Holt on Saturday night in the Oval Office where Holt expressed his gratitude for the Trump administration and others who had intervened on behalf of a "normal person" to secure his freedom.

The Mormon missionary, his Venezuelan wife Thamara Caleño and her daughter were seen embracing Holt's parents in a video released by the office of Senator Orrin Hatch.

Joshua Holt arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport.

The family was then welcomed to the White House by US President Donald Trump.

They touched ground in Washington D.C. Saturday before reuniting with family, and meeting with President Trump. A day earlier, he described the encounter between Maduro and Corker as "a very good meeting; it is good news for the Venezuelan people".

Holt was arrested on weapons charges almost two years ago, after going to Venezuela in 2016 to marry a woman he met online while looking for Spanish-speaking Mormons to help him learn the language.

Until Trump's tweet on Saturday, the US had stopped short of publicly calling Holt a "hostage".

Hatch was officially notified Friday that Holt's release was being finalized, according to an official familiar with the events, and Corker had kept in close contact with Hatch, who had spoken several times with Maduro about Holt's situation. Venezuela has since expelled a USA diplomat based in the capital Caracas for allegedly "conspiring" against the government. ". And I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh and his sweet, long suffering family in Riverton".

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"You understood that beautifully", Trump said to Holt's Venezuelan daughter. Hatch posted a statement saying the release was the culmination of two years of hard work.

Venezuela's Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said their release was a goodwill gesture that followed months of dialogue between the Maduro Government and United States politicians. President Trump has previously dangled the threat of military force against Venezuela.

"You've been very fearless", Trump said to Holt. In June of that year, he was arrested by the government, which accused him - with the help of planted evidence, observers say - of stockpiling weapons as part of an American efforts to topple the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

"Very glad that Josh Holt is now back home with his family - where he has always belonged", U.S. Vice President Mike Pence wrote in a tweet.

Laurie Holt says family and friends will meet her son Joshua Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, at the airport to welcome them home.

On May 17, Holt issued a plea on Facebook, asking the USA government to help him return home.

After being sworn in for a new six-year term this week - in a vote condemned by the a "sham" after the main opposition parties boycotted it - Maduro called for the release of some detained prisoners, without naming anyone specifically.

The talks were encouraged by Pompeo, who met privately with Corker on Thursday morning and finalized details of the senator's trip ahead of testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the State Department budget.

American Imprisoned in Venezuela is Feted at White House Following His Release