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Utah man jailed in Venezuela freed Saturday

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 10:08 AM
Updated: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 2:01 PM

In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah.  Josh Holt  has been released from a jail in Venezuela after spending nearly two years behind bars on weapons charges.  
Rick Bowmer, AP
In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah. Josh Holt has been released from a jail in Venezuela after spending nearly two years behind bars on weapons charges.  (Rick Bowmer, AP)

Update 9:25 p.m. EDT: President Donald Trump on Saturday evening welcomed Joshua Holt who had been held captive for two years in a Venezuelan jail, back to the United States.

Holt and his wife arrived at Washington Dulles International Airport after being released by Venezuelan officials following high level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. Sen. Bob Corker.

Holt said he was “overwhelmed with gratitude.” 

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Thamara Caleno, Holt’s wife, told The Associated Press that until they were airborne, they worried their return might fall through. 

In this image provided by the Holt family, Joshua Holt, his wife Thamara and her daughter Marian Leal, board a plane at the airport in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, May 26, 2018. Jailed in Venezuela on weapons charges nearly two years ago, Holt was released Saturday after a U.S. senator pressed for his freedom in a surprise meeting with President Nicolas Maduro. Holt and his wife, who also jailed, were reunited with her daughter from a previous relationship at Caracas airport where the three boarded a chartered flight to Washington. (Holt family photo via AP)(Uncredited/AP)

Update 2:01 p.m. EDT: CNN reports that President Donald Trump will make a live address to the nation at 7 p.m. EST after he meets with Joshua Holt at the White House. 

Update 10:43 a.m. EDT: Joshua Holt’s family has released a statement following the President’s announcement regarding his release from Caracas, Venezuela, calling it a “miracle.”

The Holt family stated:

“We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish,” the Associated Press reports. “We ask that you allow us to meet with our son and his wife before giving any interviews or statements. We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle.”

President Trump tweeted he is looking forward to meeting the family at the White House on Saturday night.

 

Original story: Joshua Holt, an American from Utah jailed in Venezuela for over two years without trial, is expected to be released and return to the United States Saturday night. 

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President Donald Trump tweeted that Holt was a “hostage” in the socialist country.

Holt is expected to arrive in Washington D.C., around 7 p.m. on Saturday night and will be reunited with his family at the White House.

 

Holt is a Mormon missionary from Utah who was jailed in 2016 after traveling to Venezuela to marry a woman he met online, according to The New York Times

He was accused of stockpiling weapons and arrested.

Holt has been held in a Caracas jail since 2016. 

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) posted a statement on Twitter, saying Holt’s release is the result of a two-year effort working with the Trump and Obama administrations and Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela. 

Hatch says Holt's wife, Thamy Holt, had also been released but it is unclear if she will travel with her husband back to the United States.

 
This is a developing story, check back for updates. 

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