Saturday, 20 October, 2018

Venezuela ‘hostage’ flying home to meet family at White House

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
Melinda Barton | 27 May, 2018, 03:34

"Good news about the release", he wrote.

The United States accuses Maduro's government of stifling democracy, repressing the opposition and massive corruption.

Holt, a Mormon, flew to Venezuela to marry Thamy Holt, a woman he met online.

Hatch and Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, also lobbied on behalf of Holt and decried his poor treatment in prison. -Venezuelan tensions that in the last week saw tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, Washington's refusal to recognize the May 20 re-election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and the imposition of new US sanctions on Caracas.

The announcement came as a the Venezuelan government had appeared to be doubling down on claims that Holt was a US government agent.

President Trump celebrated the development in some tweets Saturday as the newly released couple are expected to land in D.C. this evening. He and his wife have been held without a trial since 2016.

Venezuela's communications minister, Jorge Rodriguez, said their release was a goodwill gesture that followed months of dialogue between the Maduro government and USA lawmakers.

They had been held in a notorious Caracas prison run by the secret police that's also home to dozens of Maduro's top opponents who have been jailed during the past few years of political unrest in the country.

Holt's mother, Laurie Holt, said her son and his wife were wrongly accused. The U.S. contended Holt was held on trumped up charges. She worked feverishly to bring attention to her son's incarceration, hosting rallies, fundraisers and doing media interviews.

The video comes hours after Hatch announced he had secured Holt's release in a statement, calling the return of his fellow Utah native the culmination of two years of negotiations with the Venezuelan government and President Nicolas Maduro.

Goodman reported from Bogota, Colombia.