An American and his wife held almost two years in a Venezuelan jail arrived home in the United States Saturday, May 26, after their release in what Venezuela's leftist government said was a gesture aimed at fostering dialogue with Washington to avert U.S. "aggressions".
Josh Holt and his Venezuelan wife, Thamy, landed at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. There the couple and their daughter reunited with his family in a tearful meeting at the airport. "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.
HuffPost contributed additional information to this report.
FILE - In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led to a surprise breakthrough.
In a harrowing recent Facebook post, Holt pleaded for help and for his life, from a Caracas jail.
Venezuelan law enforcement allege that the American man had stockpiled weapons in his wife's family's apartment inside a public housing complex in Caracas, the nation's capital. "I'm just so grateful for what you guys have done, and for thinking about me, and caring about me, just a normal person", Holt said during the Oval Office meeting.
President Donald Trump said Holt and his family were expected at the White House on Saturday evening.
The Venezuelan president then retaliated by giving the two top U.S. diplomats in the country 48 hours to leave, accusing them of conspiring against his government.
"You went through a lot", Trump told Joshua Holt at the Oval Office, where the former Mormon missionary was joined by his parents, his wife and daughter.
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Politicians from Utah, including Senator Hatch, advocated for Holt's release.
Holt's imprisonment had drawn the attention of multiple U.S. Senators.
In a statement, the Holt family said, "We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish".
"You've been very fearless, actually, you've been incredibly courageous", Trump said.
USA authorities had been denied access to a court hearing on Holt's case in December, with Trump labelling the United States citizen a "hostage" of the Venezuela administration.
The release comes amid a shaky period in U.S. -Venezuela relations and just days after Maduro won reelection in a vote that has been widely denounced as illegitimate.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Saturday, "U.S. policy toward Venezuela remains unchanged".
A statement that relatives provided Saturday confirms that Joshua Holt and his wife will be freed from detention in the capital of Caracas.
'We just want you to know that when you look over your tenure in the Presidency, this is one of the many great things you're doing.