An American imprisoned in Venezuela has been released after U.S. officials pressured the government of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro amid rising tensions within the South American country.
President Donald Trump praised the release of prisoner Joshua Holt, a Utah native, and said Holt and his family will be welcomed home at the White House on Saturday evening.
Good news about the release of the American hostage from Venezuela. Should be landing in D.C. this evening and be in the White House, with his family, at about 7:00 P.M. The great people of Utah will be very happy!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2018
Holt, 26, went to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry a woman he met online. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced that Holt’s wife, Thamara Candelo, was also released, adding that Holt is headed to Riverton, Utah, to be reunited with “his sweet, long-suffering family,” according to The Associated Press.
Their release came after multiple lawmakers upped the pressure on the country’s socialist leader, including Hatch and Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah), as well as Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), who met with Maduro on Friday after the top U.S. diplomat to Venezuela was expelled from the country.
Holt had planned to stay in Caracas for a few months last year to secure visas for Candelo and her daughters but was arrested under charges of using her apartment to stockpile weapons as part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Maduro government. Candelo was also arrested as an accomplice.
Holt’s mother, Laurie Holt, has worked since his imprisonment to bring attention to the case, saying the charges are false and decrying his poor treatment in the Caracas prison, where he suffered health problems.
“We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish,” the Holt family said in a statement upon their son’s release. “We ask that you allow us to meet with our son and his wife before giving any interviews and statements. We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle.”