President Donald Trump said U.S. citizen Josh Holt was released from a Venezuelan jail Saturday after being detained for two years without a trial.
“Should be landing in D.C. this evening and be in the White House, with his family, at about 7:00 P.M.,” the president wrote on Twitter. “The great people of Utah will be very happy!”
Senator Orrin Hatch, who represents Holt’s home state of Utah, posted on Twitter he helped secure the release of Holt and his wife, Thamy.
“Over the last two years I’ve worked with two Presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts, ambassadors from all over the world, a network of contacts in Venezuela, and President Maduro himself, and I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family …”
Hatch also thanked U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, who met in the Venezuelan capital of Caracas Friday with President Nicolas Maduro in an attempt to secure the release of Holt. Holt has been in a Caracas jail without a trial for two years on what he has said are false weapons charges.
The 26-year-old Holt traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry a woman he met online. Police arrested Holt after finding an assault rifle and grenades during a raid on a housing complex where the couple lived. Holt has denied the charges.
After Corker’s meeting with Maduro, there was speculation on social media platforms in Venezuela that the couple would be released as a goodwill gesture to improve U.S.-Venezuelan relations.
Maduro won a second six-year term in office Sunday in an election that the U.S. and other countries have described as a “sham” after several rivals were prohibited from running.
After his victory, Maduro expelled the two most senior U.S. diplomats for allegedly conspiring to sabotage the election by pushing opposition parties to boycott the election.
Despite the expulsion of the American diplomats, the Venezuelan government has been seeking ways to avoid the threat of harsh U.S. oil sanctions that could further cripple the country’s ailing economy.