Another American hostage comes home

31 May, 2018, 18:08 | Author: Dustin Murphy
  • Mormon missionary from Utah jailed in Venezuela without trial released after two years

US lawmakers are hailing the return of Josh Holt, who arrived back in the United States over the weekend after being held in a Venezuelan prison for almost two years without a trial.

In televised comments as recently as the beginning of the month, the No. 2 official in Venezuela's ruling Socialist Party, Diosdado Cabello, described Holt as "the head of USA espionage in Latin America", and said that he would remain behind bars.

Alfredo Romero, a lawyer who defends some of the opposition activists who were held alongside Holt, said that Maduro may be looking to win over some political sectors in the U.S.to temper Trump's hardline approach toward Venezuela.

Utah man Joshua Holt and his wife Thamy have been in a Venezuelan prison since 2016 after being arrested for firearm offences.

The White House is thanking the government of Venezuela for releasing an American held in jail for two years but adding that US policy toward the Maduro regime isn't changing. The couple was joined by Sen. "We're doing all the right things".

His family says Holt was framed on the weapons charges and the United States accused Caracas of using him as a bargaining chip in sanctions talks.

The release came two weeks after North Korea released three American hostages ahead of a planned summit between President Trump and Kim Jong Un - a meeting Trump canceled but has since said could be rejuvenated.

Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport for a tearful reunion with his parents, Laurie and Jason Holt.


After almost two years of being imprisoned in Venezuela, a video from Sen.

Holt, 24, is a US citizen and was arrested by Venezuelan intelligence services on June 30, 2016, along with his wife, Tamara Belen Caleno.

"We hope this gesture strengthens dialogue and respect toward our independence", Venezuela's Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said of Holt's release in comments broadcast on state television. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted he is "very happy for Josh Holt & his family". All the officials agreed to discuss details of the negotiations only on condition of anonymity.

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted just as Holt's plane landed that while he was "very glad" Holt was back home, sanctions against the country would "continue until democracy returns to Venezuela". In April, Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., had also met with Maduro to press Holt's release.

A Mormon missionary from Utah, Holt - called the "Gringo Agent" in Venezuela - became the ultimate example of an American in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Nicmer Evans, a Venezuelan political analyst, said Holt's reversal of fortune comes as Maduro is trying to find legitimacy after that vote - and relief from a barrage of global sanctions.

The U.S. government at first avoided ratcheting up public pressure on Venezuela in light of their already strained relations, but eventually raised Holt's case with the highest levels of the Venezuelan government and decried his treatment in prison.

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