Freed after 2 years, man jailed in Venezuela returns to US

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A Utah man who has been held in Venezuela without trial for two years was on his way home to the U.S. on Saturday, family members and Donald Trump said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) shared the heartwarming moment Saturday that Utah native Joshua Holt and his wife were reunited with his parents after two years of imprisonment by the Venezuelan government. Corker started talks with Venezuela's government earlier this year at Hatch's request, he said.

HuffPost contributed additional information to this report.

Holt joked that the time he spent in Venezuela was "not really the great vacation that I was looking for", and said that he was "so grateful", describing himself as "a normal person".

The diplomatic coup de grace came when Tennessee Senator Bob Corker made a surprise trip to Venezuela this week, where he shook hands with Maduro and apparently secured Holt's release. Holt had been accused by Venezuelan officials of stockpiling weapons and grenades in public housing, a charge that he denies, and his incarceration had become a major flash point in relations between Caracas and Washington. Josh Holt said he was "overwhelmed with gratitude" after the "very, very, very hard two years" he spent in Caracas.

President Trump said Saturday morning that he looked forward to welcoming Holt to the White House that evening. Venezuela has since expelled a U.S. diplomat based in the capital Caracas for allegedly "conspiring" against the government.

"This type of gesture. allows us to consolidate what has always been our standpoint: dialogue, agreement, respect for our independence, respect for our sovereignty", Rodriguez said. Holt's wife, Thamara, also was freed, said Sen. US officials say the charges were trumped up.

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Holt said he was overwhelmed with gratitude and thanked everyone who was involved in his release.

The Utah senator added: "I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton".

In an emotional speech to the President in the Oval Office, Hatch told Trump: "You know, I was the one guy who really supported you 100 per cent, and I do now".

The Herald said Holt was a former Mormon missionary who was detained in Caracas along with his wife, Thamara Caleño, on charges his legal team claimed were false.

An American man was freed from captivity in Venezuela on Saturday after being imprisoned by the South American country for almost two years, officials said. Venezuelan officials released the Holts after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and USA lawmakers.

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 USA had stopped short of publicly calling Holt a 'hostage'.

On Friday, however, human rights monitors reported the release of 20 activists who had been jailed in the western state of Zulia for protesting against the government.

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