Family of American freed from Venezuela calls release a 'miracle'

"You were a tough one, I have to tell you, that was a tough situation", the President said to Holt, adding that he is "very proud" of the administration's overall track record.

A Utah man who had been jailed in Venezuela for almost two years has returned to the United States.

"You understood that beautifully", Trump said to Holt's Venezuelan daughter.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro, left, shakes hands with Republican Senator Bob Corker during a meeting at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Friday May 25, 2018.

The Trump administration has threatened crippling oil sanctions on Venezuela for Maduro's decision to go forward with presidential elections last week that the US has called a "sham".

A former Mormon missionary, Holt had been looking to connect with a Spanish speaker to practice the language, reports NBCnews.com, when he met Candelo, also a Mormon, online. I've been begging my government for two years.

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

Sen. Orrin Hatch says on Twitter that Joshua Holt has been freed.

Hatch also thanked Corker, who was involved with the negotiations and met with Maduro on Friday.

The senators joined Holt, his wife, parents, the freed couple's daughter Marian, and other U.S. officials in the White House for a meeting with President Donald Trump.

He was commenting after Holt, 26, and his wife Thamara Caleno, landed in Washington after Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered their release after two years. Dick Durbin of IL had in April with Maduro to urge Holt's release.

In a story May 26 about the release of an American jailed in Venezuela, The Associated Press reported erroneously that the USA government had imposed sanctions on Venezuelan first lady Cilia Flores.

Top officials in the regime labelled Holt a U.S. spy.

Shortly after McCarry's visit, Lacava traveled to Washington in March to speak with several lawmakers including Hatch, Corker, Sen. And a number of politicians and diplomats have traveled to Caracas in recent months to try to negotiate his release.

United States sanctions on Venezuela will continue, Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday, despite the release of an American and his wife from a Venezuelan jail. The details were still being worked out, the official said.

Holt's parents have said their son was kept in appalling conditions, with meager food and limited access to health services, at El Helicoide, the infamous political prison in central Caracas.

The family of a Utah man jailed in a Venezuelan jail for two years calls his release a miracle. Authorities arrested him on June 30, 2016, and accused him of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades, suggesting his case was linked to other unspecified USA attempts to undermine Maduro's rule amid deep economic and political turbulence.

Holt, who had changed from his blue jeans into a navy blue suit and tie for the White House visit, looked calm and at ease sitting next to Trump.

  • Rogelio Becker