Monday, 15 October, 2018

Man held in Venezuela for 2 years is welcomed home by Trump

American Citizen Held in Venezuela Released, Trump Announces American 'hostage' Josh Holt has been released from Venezuela, Trump says
Glenn Montgomery | 29 May, 2018, 15:24

Venezuela has released an American who had been held as a prisoner there for two years.

On Saturday, a beaming Lacava could be seen in a video boarding the Venezuelan government plane that transported Holt to Washington wearing aviator glasses and a dark suit.

They were welcomed to the White House by US President Donald Trump, who told Holt he had been "incredibly courageous".

"I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude for you guys for everything that you've done", Holt said, adding that it had been a "very, very hard two years".

The wife of the American man held for two years in jail in Venezuela says they anxious until their plane was in the air that their release and flight to the USA would somehow fall apart. Not really the great vacation that I was looking for...

Joshua Holt was accused of being the CIA's top spy in Latin America by senior Venezuelan officials but U.S. officials, including Trump, say he was held "hostage". "You've gone through a lot - more than most people could endure".

When he departed the Caracas airport earlier, Holt told The Associated Press that the ordeal had left him "exhausted".

Months of secret, backchannel talks between an aide to Mr Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and close allies of Mr Maduro preceded their return.

Josh Holt's parents praised Trump, other administration officials and lawmakers involved in securing his and his wife's release.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Twitter that while he welcomes Holt home, "U.S. policy toward Venezuela remains unchanged".

Mr Holt and his wife were reunited at the Caracas airport with her daughter from a previous relationship, and all three boarded a chartered flight to Washington. "We are on our way home", Corker tweeted.

The president also mentioned other Americans who are being held in other foreign countries and shared his confidence that his administration will be able to secure the releases of others, as well.

The Mormon missionary traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry Caleño, whom he met on an online Mormon dating site. And they were at his wife's apartment on the outskirts of Caracas after the wedding and got caught up in an anti-gang raid.

Holt's release comes more than a week after he posted a video to Facebook during a prison riot in the jail he was incarcerated in, pleading for help from the US government.

Speaking to reporters in Caracas, Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Maduro had ordered their release as a "gesture" aimed at promoting dialogue with Washington. US financial sanctions have sharply contributed to the Venezuelan economy's nose dive, and fears have built that the United States - the largest cash buyer of Venezuelan oil - would impose a potentially crippling embargo.

Venezuelan state television showed Corker and Maduro shaking hands Friday, before holding a closed door meeting at the presidential palace. Holt's not exactly, you know, a hardened criminal type.

"It was a horrifying, horrifying week", Laurie Holt, who is Josh's mother said. Obviously, Maduro did not need Senator Corker then. She said her son has suffered numerous health problems in jail, including kidney stones and respiratory problems. In most cases, they're Americans, but we can try and help other countries too, where there's injustice. And Venezuela's government all along was claiming that he was this really risky US spy.

They also ask to be allowed to meet Holt and his wife before making any public statements.

"We're just so grateful", Derek said.

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