Josh Holt released from Venezuelan jail


Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah announced his office helped secure Holt's release.

President Trump is celebrating the release of an American hostage from a Venezuelan prison.

"I'm pleased to announce that after two years of hard work, we've secured the release of Josh and Thamy Holt, who are now on their way home to the United States from Venezuela", Hatch said in a tweet.

The release of Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, and their departure for Washington came one day after an influential US senator held a surprise meeting in Caracas with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who the Trump administration says runs a "dictatorship" and just won re-election in a "sham" vote.

Mr. Holt, 26, was jailed when he traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry a woman he met online. Josh has been released from a jail in Venezuela after spending almost two years behind bars on weapons charges.

Holt and his wife were freed overnight and released to the US Embassy in Caracas, according to Foro Penal, a human rights organization of lawyers and others who assist political prisoners in Venezuela. US Rep. Mia Love, a Utah Republican, tweeted, "After almost 2 years, Josh Holt is finally coming home!"

His wife also was jailed on allegations of being Holt's accomplice. Maduro went forward with a presidential election last week that the USA has called a "sham".

He was arrested shortly after arriving in Venezuela almost two years ago.

Instead, the couple was arrested at her family's government housing complex on the outskirts of Caracas. He and his wife were arrested soon after, accused of stockpiling weapons.

He's been held in the El Heliocide prison ever since, and in recent days had posted messages to his Facebook account saying his life was in danger because there was rioting there.

Holt's mother, Laurie Holt, said all along that her son and his wife were wrongly accused.

Laurie Holt said her son has suffered numerous health problems in jail, including kidney stones and respiratory problems. "We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle".