Venezuela frees USA missionary Josh Holt after two years

Joshua Holt and Thamara Candelo on their wedding day. Thamara's daughter Nathalia 7 is in the foreground

Joshua Holt and Thamara Candelo on their wedding day. Thamara's daughter Nathalia 7 is in the foreground

In their statement, the Holt family said, "We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish".

He was arrested shortly after arriving in Venezuela almost two years ago. Authorities arrested him on June 30, 2016 and accused him of using his wife's apartment in Caracas to stockpile weapons and suggesting his case was linked to other unspecified USA attempts to undermine President Maduro's rule amid deep economic and political turbulence. Trump said Holt's case had proved hard and lawmakers, along with members of the State Department, had been working tirelessly to have him released.

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted just as Holt's plane landed that he was "very glad that Josh Holt is now back home with his family - where he has always belonged" but added sanctions against the country wound "continue until democracy returns to Venezuela".

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he played a small role in bringing home a Utah man jailed in Venezuela for almost two years. "It's really special to have you both", the president told Mr. Holt and his bride, Thamy Holt, on Saturday. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Rep. Ed Royce, R-Calif., according to several senior US officials. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah).

Corker, met with Maduro who called the encounter "fruitful, deep and productive". It followed by a day a meeting in Caracas between Maduro and U.S. Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On Saturday, Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez told journalists in Caracas that Holt's release was the product of "months" of "fruitful meetings" between Maduro and USA lawmakers.

Speaking at a news conference in Caracas, Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Holt and his wife, Thamy, were freed as part of efforts by Maduro's government to maintain "respectful diplomatic relations" with Washington.

Corker was seen live on state TV on Friday shaking hands with Maduro and being greeted by first lady Cilia Flores as he entered the presidential palace.

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One woman interviewed by the Herald, said Holt had been framed with the crime because he was a US citizen, alleging that she and four other witnesses saw government authorities plant the weapons in Holt's apartment.

Both Holt and US officials have denied all charges.

Shortly after McCarry's visit, Lacava traveled to Washington in March to speak with several lawmakers including Hatch, Corker, Sen. She says that a fellow inmate at their Caracas jail relayed information Friday night that prison officials were discussing their release. Corker negotiated the release with Maduro. The details were still being worked out, the official said.

Joshua Holt, an American political prisoner in Venezuela and a former Mormon missionary from Utah, posted a video on Facebook on May 17, 2018, saying he feared for his life.

Relationships formed in the now-defunct group were also instrumental in securing the release of another American accused of spying, documentary filmmaker Tim Tracy, who spent a month in a Venezuelan jail in 2013.

"Looking forward to seeing Joshua Holt this evening in the White House", he tweeted.

They also ask to be allowed to meet Holt and his wife before making any public statements.