Utah Man Jailed In Venezuela Freed After Two Years

Posted May 29, 2018

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who had worked for the couple's release, said "I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton".

That prompted the U.S. Embassy in Venezuela to express concern that Holt and other Americans in the prison might be in danger. In retaliation, socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello, a powerful Maduro ally, said on state television that Holt was the CIA's top spy in Latin America. That a United States Senator of his prominence dares to affirm that such a regime "is willing to work with the U.S.to improve relations between the countries" is simply flabbergasting. The Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro two days after the embattled socialist leader kicked out the top USA diplomat in the country. Corker started talks with Venezuela's government earlier this year at Hatch's request, he said.

Soon after they married, the couple was arrested by the Venezuelan intelligence service Sebin, and accused of possessing weapons and plotting to destabilise the Maduro government.

Sen. Hatch first announced news of Holt's release on Twitter early Saturday.

Communications Minister Jorge Rodrigues said Saturday that the release of Joshua Holt follows months of dialogue between President Nicolas Maduro and representatives of the United States. "We saw what was happening inside of that prison, so you really have been very, very fearless". He was echoed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said US policy remains unchanged.

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However, after word of Lacava's visit was leaked by Sen. He flew immediately to Washington, where he met with Donald Trump.

Requests from pool reportes for more details were not immediately answered by the White House.

When The Associated Press reported on the politically fraught backchannel in March, few imagined it would succeed. The two have been held without trial since they were arrested shortly after the wedding in 2016.

The Trump administration has threatened crippling oil sanctions on Venezuela for Maduro's decision to go forward with the presidential election last week.

Sitting with Trump and other US officials, Holt said he was "overwhelmed with gratitude" for those who worked for his release.

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But US officials immediately squelched any suggestion that punitive measures against Venezuela would be eased after the release of Joshua Holt, 26, and his wife Thamara Caleno.

This come after Tennessee Senator Bob Corker traveled to Venezuela, less than a week after Nicolas Maduro won re-election in a race which was widely denounced. "So you really have been very, very courageous", Trump said.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said this month that a senior department official had urged Holt's release on humanitarian grounds. "When you look back on your tenure during the presidency, this is just one of many great things you're doing, but it's really a great thing".

'We love you boy and we want to support you any way we can'. "And so know that we are engaged", Pompeo told lawmakers at the hearing.

The Maduro government has yet to comment on the reasons for the release. Zapatero has been leading a three-year push to bring the government and opposition together to help resolve Venezuela's economic and political crisis. It is unclear how Holt gained access to a cellphone or the internet from El Helicoide, or the Helix, prison in Caracas. He walked by the camera shouting "Dracula on the attack!" and flashing a "V for Victory" sign. In a follow-up tweet, the president mentioned Holt by name.

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"We've had 17 prisoners released during the Trump administration", Trump said while seated next to Holt.