Joshua Holt, an American citizen who had been held in a Venezuelan jail for the past two years, was freed last week as a result of high-level diplomatic talks. His wife Thamara Caleno, was also released.
“Overwhelmed with gratitude,” Holt was welcomed in Washington, DC by his parents, Laurie and Jason Holt, and a few hours later by President Donald Trump.
“Those two years, they were a very, very, very difficult two years,” said an emotional Holt, sitting beside Trump in the Oval Office. “Not really the great vacation that I was looking for. … I’m just so grateful for what you guys have done.”
Holt, a Utah citizen, went to Venezuela in 2016 to marry Caleno, a woman he had met online but never in person. Soon after arriving in Venezuela and marrying Caleno he was arrested and labeled by the Venezuelan government as the “CIA’s top spy in Latin America.
Holt’s release was orchestrated by Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee, who met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in what was a surprise meeting.
The couple was arrested on June 30, 2016 in a raid on Caleno’s family’s apartment. They were accused of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades and being linked to other unspecified attempts by the US to weaken Maduro’s rule.
Upon his release the Holt family released the following statement:
“We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish. We ask that you allow us to meet with our son and his wife before giving any interviews and statements. We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle.”