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Joshua Holt, American jailed in Venezuela, has been released, says Sen. Hatch

Utah man jailed in Venezuela released
Utah man jailed in Venezuela released 03:21

Joshua Holt, an American who was jailed in Venezuela, has been released and is returning home, according to President Trump and Sen. Orrin Hatch. Holt's wife, Thamy, has also been released, Hatch said.

"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!" Mr. Trump tweeted Saturday morning. In a follow-up tweet, the president mentioned Holt by name. 

Hatch's office said the Utah Republican had secured Holt's release, with the help of Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. 

Holt is from Hatch's state of Utah. Hatch issued a statement shortly after the president's first tweet. 

"Over the last two years I've worked with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts, ambassadors from all over the world, a network of contacts in Venezuela, and President Maduro himself, and I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton," Hatch tweeted.

On Thursday afternoon, Corker tweeted out a picture of himself with the Holts, saying, "We are on our way home."

Venezuela's chief spokesman, Communications Minister Jorge Rodrigues, said he hopes the release will engender "respect for our independence and respect for our sovereignty." 

"We're praying that this types of gestures by our president, Nicolas Maduro, will allow us to strength what we've always sought: dialogue, harmony, respect for our independence and respect for our sovereignty," he said.

A Mormon missionary, Holt, now 26, had traveled to Venezuela in 2016 to marry a fellow Mormon. But the couple was arrested at her family's apartment after police claimed they found him stockpiling weapons.

In a harrowing recent Facebook post, Holt pleaded for help and for his life, from a Caracas jail.

"Help me please United States, how long do I have to suffer unjustly in this place?" he wrote. "They want to kill me and paint the walls with my blood."

News of Holt's return him was praised by others in Congress as well. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted he is "very happy for Josh Holt & his family. He was an innocent America(n) hostage in #Venezuela & his UNCONDITIONAL release was long overdue."

Rubio also said Hatch had "worked tirelessly" for Holt's release.

Rep. Mia Love, a Republican from Holt's state of Utah, said the president told her the news directly.

"JOSH HOLT IS COMING HOME!! I spoke with the president today, who shared this great news with me. I'm thrilled and relieved for the family, and grateful for all the hard work that's been done to get Josh home," she tweeted.

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