United States sanctions remain despite Mormon missionary release from Venezuela jail

United States sanctions remain despite Mormon missionary release from Venezuela jail

Joshua Holt, a Utah native held in Venezuelan jail for almost two years, returned to USA soil on Saturday, and was welcomed by President Trump.

An American who was held in a Venezuelan prison for almost two years on weapons charges made it back to the U.S. Saturday evening where he was greeted by his family and President Trump.

Corker, who led efforts to get Holt and his wife released, traveled to Venezuela to meet with President Nicolás Maduro and said it was "quite an experience".

Trump invited Joshua Holt, 26, of Riverton, Utah, and his family to the White House after Holt's expected arrival in Washington on a flight out of Venezuela. "We extend our special thanks to Senator Bob Corker, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senator Mike Lee, Representative Mia Love, and all the other members of Congress who have worked on behalf of the Holt family over the past two years and helped to make this day a reality", he said.

Trump said Holt, 26, would be in Washington, D.C., Saturday evening at about 7 p.m.

"The great people of Utah will be very happy!"

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Trump responded by calling Holt courageous.

Holt and his wife, Thamy, have been held in a Venezuelan prison since 2016. Sen.

They were held in a notorious Caracas prison, run by the secret police, that also is home to dozens of top Maduro opponents jailed during the past few years of political unrest in the country. When the once-unimaginable voyage resumed Holt had a big smile on his face, Corker told Trump in an Oval Office meeting Saturday night surrounded by the Utah man and his family.

The freeing of the Mormon missionary from Utah came despite deepening US-Venezuelan tensions that in the last week saw tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, Washington's refusal to recognize the May 20 re-election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and the imposition of new US. sanctions on Caracas.

American Joshua Holt has been set free by the Venezuela's Maduro Government, in what his family has described as "this miracle", after spending almost two years in jail accused of being a spy for the Central Intelligence Agency.

He says fellow Republican Sen.

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"This wouldn't have happened without you", Hatch said.

Holt and his wife were jailed almost two years on weapons charges that USA officials considered bogus. Hatch issued a statement shortly after the president's first tweet.

Josh's family says they are humbled by the outpouring of support.

Derek Holt, Josh's older brother said his family has had several close calls where they thought he'd be coming home, but didn't - most recently on Thanksgiving.

"They were a very, very, very hard two years", he said. The couple has denied the charge of concealing weapons.

Maduro won a second six-year term in office May 20 in an election that the US and other countries have described as a "sham" after several rivals were prohibited from running.

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