Utah man jailed in a Venezuela for two years to be released

American Citizen Held in Venezuela Released, Trump Announces

American 'hostage' Josh Holt has been released from Venezuela, Trump says

Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, met with Venezuela's president, Nicolas Maduro, on Friday, two days after the embattled socialist leader kicked out the top us diplomat in the country.

Both Holt and his new wife were imprisoned and held without trial before the Trump administration helped secure the Holts' release.

"This type of gesture. allows us to consolidate what has always been our standpoint: dialogue, agreement, respect for our independence, respect for our sovereignty", Rodriguez said. "He's not a spy", he's a "totally innocent man". Yet the Venezuelan human rights group Foro Penal called the effort simply part of a new "revolving door policy" in which some prisoners were being released even as others were being detained.

"We are all, as a group, very happy", Trump said. Holt was married to a Venezuelan woman who also was arrested when she came to visit him in prison.

Holt's Venezuelan wife, Thamara, was arrested alongside him, but was also freed on Saturday and brought to the USA with her daughter.

Venezuelan state television showed Corker and Maduro shaking hands Friday, before holding a closed door meeting at the presidential palace.

Venezuela held Holt and other USA citizens in the Helicoide political prison in Caracas, where inmates staged an uprising earlier this month. He was arrested shortly afterward and accused by the Venezuelan government of stockpiling weapons and attempting to destabilize the government, according to The Washington Post. US officials say the charges against Holt were politically motivated. Maduro's autocratic regime faces sanctions on its financial sector, moves meant to punish the government without further hurting a hungry and downtrodden population.

Venezuela - once one of Latin America's most prosperous countries - has the world's largest oil reserves but oil production has fallen sharply in recent years as corruption, disinvestment and the loss of skilled workers take their toll.

Laurie Holt also asked that well-wishers and supporters respect the privacy of the members of the Holt family who are still at the family's home in Utah. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who pushed for his release, tweeted a video of the moment Holt's parents got to hug their son and meet their daughter-in-law and granddaughter.

"I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton", Mr. Hatch said in the statement.

In an emotional speech to the President in the Oval Office, Hatch told Trump: "You know, I was the one guy who really supported you 100 per cent, and I do now". He spoke to Holt, commenting on how much the entire group worked to secure his release.

Despite the expulsion of the American diplomats, the Venezuelan government has been seeking ways to avoid the threat of harsh USA oil sanctions that could further cripple the country's ailing economy. Maduro responded by expelling the U.S. Embassy's charge d'affaires and his deputy from Venezuela.

Holt's release comes a little over a week after the native Utahn released two short videos on his Facebook page in which he said a prison riot was endangering his life.

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