Senator, Trump say Utah man released from Venezuela jail

Joshua Holt in a Venezuelan jail holding a letter he received last Friday from Sen. Orrin Hatch

Joshua Holt in a Venezuelan jail holding a letter he received last Friday from Sen. Orrin Hatch

Holt's release comes more than a week after he posted videos to Facebook during a prison riot, pleading for help from Americans and the U.S. government.

Josh Holt, an American who had been held as a prisoner in Venezuela since the summer of 2016, is back on USA soil.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert opened the briefing with a statement on Holt's release, thanking her department colleagues for their efforts on Holt's behalf.

Holt is a native of Utah. In retaliation, he was branded the CIA's spy boss in Latin America by the head of the ruling socialist party.

Following the vote, Maduro expelled USA charge d'affaires Todd Robinson and his deputy for allegedly conspiring to sabotage the vote by pressuring opposition parties to boycott the election, which had the lowest voter turnout in decades.

But the arrival in Caracas on Friday of Sen. It followed by a day a meeting in Caracas between Maduro and U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude for you guys, for everything that you've done; for the support of my wife through those two years", Holt said.

Holt had gone to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry a woman he met online while looking for Spanish-speaking Mormons who could help him improve his Spanish.

Senator Corker and McCarry are traveling with the Holts from Venezuela and will land in Washington this evening. "They were a very, very, very hard two years".

Relationships formed in the now-defunct group were also instrumental in securing the release of another American accused of spying, documentary filmmaker Tim Tracy, who spent a month in a Venezuelan jail in 2013. "I'd like to thank my colleagues in Consular Affairs and especially I'd like to thank our Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon for his efforts on this case over the past two years", she said. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee and Utah Rep. Mia Love. I'd like to thank our colleagues at our U.S. Embassy in Caracas. The details were still being worked out, the official said.

However, after word of Lacava's visit was leaked by Sen.

"Surely Venezuela gets something in return", wrote Golinger, who has become a Maduro critic.

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When The Associated Press reported on the politically fraught backchannel in March, few imagined it would succeed.

It's not clear if Holt's release portends a thawing of relations between the two normally hostile governments.

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

An official with the National Security Council stressed that nothing had been offered to secure Holt's release.

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

Eva Golinger, a New York-based immigration lawyer once dubbed the "sweetheart" of Venezuela's socialist revolution by former Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said on Twitter that Maduro freed Holt as a gesture to gain legitimacy and win the lifting of US sanctions.

Their trial was set to begin this month after repeated delays that led the Trump administration to question the motives for his detention, although until Trump's tweet Saturday, the United States had stopped short of publicly calling Holt a "hostage".

The message had little information about the arrest but included a local news article about the alleged crime, including photos of guns, a grenade, cash, Josh Holt's passport, credit cards and IDs allegedly taken from the apartment where the couple was living. They seem to be doing things, but I'm still here and now my life is threatened. We're in the midst of some very big negotiations to get others out. "And so know that we are engaged", Pompeo told lawmakers at the hearing. In one video he said, "I've been begging my government for two years". Zapatero has been leading a three-year push to bring the government and opposition together to help resolve Venezuela's economic and political crisis.

Trump said: "It's, really, very special to have you both". He posted a video to Twitter showing Holt reuniting with his family at Dulles International Airport. Taxiing down the runway, the plane suddenly slowed and its pilot turned back the craft to look into an instrument failure.

Aides were asked to prepare for Trump to deliver a statement on Holt's release sometime Saturday night from the White House, a White House official told CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

"Probably the only time anybody was ever happy that there was a bad instrument on an airplane", said Trump.

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