Family grateful for Utah man's 'miracle' Venezuela release

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An American and his wife held almost two years in a Venezuelan jail arrived home in the United States Saturday, May 26, after their release in what Venezuela's leftist government said was a gesture aimed at fostering dialogue with Washington to avert USA "aggressions".

Holt flew to Venezuela approximately two years ago to marry Thamy Holt, a Mormon woman he met online.

HuffPost contributed additional information to this report. Venezuela has held Holt and his wife on weapons charges without a trial since 2016.

"(Before Josh's imprisonment) I was a very energetic person, very fun-loving", Laurie Holt said. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, arrived at Dulles Airport Saturday evening.

"Josh had posted videos and pled for help so Senator Hatch made one final plea directly to President Maduro that set wheels in motion", Whitlock wrote in an email to Reuters. Venezuelan police raided their apartment and arrested them on charges of terrorism, espionage and illegal possession of weapons.

Holt's release comes a little over a week after the native Utahn released two short videos on his Facebook page in which he said a prison riot was endangering his life.

"Good news about the release of the American hostage from Venezuela", Trump tweeted later on Saturday morning. On May 22 - two days after Maduro won reelection - Robinson and the USA deputy chief of mission, Brian Naranjo, were expelled from the country in a sharp escalation of diplomatic tensions.

"We're praying that this types of gestures by our president, Nicolas Maduro, will allow us to strengthen what we've always sought: dialogue, harmony, respect for our independence and respect for our sovereignty", he said.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Joshua Holt who was recently released from a prison in Venezuela in the Oval Office of the White House Saturday
Family grateful for Utah man's 'miracle' Venezuela release

Sen. Orrin Hatch says on Twitter that Joshua Holt has been freed.

Both Holt and US officials have denied all charges.

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

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said "US policy toward Venezuela remains unchanged". "Senator Hatch has worked tirelessly on the Holt family's behalf, and I was honored to play a small role in bringing Josh and his wife home to the United States".

When the once-unimaginable voyage resumed Holt had a big smile on his face, Corker told Trump in an Oval Office meeting Saturday night surrounded by the Utah man and his family.

Mr Trump praised Mr Holt's bravery and thanked politicians who lobbied for his release, as well as Mr Holt's parents. (Holt family photo via AP) In this image provided by the Holt family, Joshua Holt, his wife Thamara and her daughter Marian Leal, board a plane at the airport in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 26, 2018. "They say they're doing things but I'm still here".

U.S. authorities had been denied access to a court hearing on Holt's case in December, with Trump labelling the U.S. citizen a "hostage" of the Venezuela administration. The Venezuelan government released 20 activists from prison the same day.

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