Pres. Trump Welcomes US Citizen Jailed In Venezuela To White House

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

This come after Tennessee Senator Bob Corker traveled to Venezuela, less than a week after Nicolas Maduro won re-election in a race which was widely denounced.

The couple arrived in Washington on Saturday after secret, backchannel negotiations between a USA congressional staffer and Venezuelan officials finally secured his freedom. Josh Holt has been released from a jail in Venezuela after spending almost two years behind bars on weapons charges.

Josh Holt and his Venezuelan wife, Thamy, landed at Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C. There the couple and their daughter reunited with his family in a tearful meeting at the airport.

He added, "Not really the great vacation I was looking for. I'm just so grateful for what you guys have done". "It's awesome that you were able to take it ... that was a tough situation", Trump said during a televised meeting at the Oval Office with Holt's parents. "You've gone through a lot - more than most people could endure".

Holt spoke briefly to thank everyone who helped him and his wife, Thamara Caleno, get released from jail but said they were exhausted, feeling like they'd gotten "maybe four hours of sleep in four days".

Josh Holt's parents praised Trump, other administration officials and lawmakers involved in securing his and his wife's release.

After the couple were arrested on June 30, 2016, top Venezuelan officials had accused him of being a United States spy.

Months of secret, backchannel talks between an aide to Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and close allies of Maduro preceded their return.

Earlier, NSC officials told CNN's Boris Sanchez that the USA "offered nothing" to Venezuelan leadership in exchange for the release of Holt. Hatch and Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, also lobbied on behalf of Holt and decried his poor treatment in prison. The lawmakers thanked Trump for his support.

And he flew to Washington, and he was in the White House last night with President Trump.

"We are on our way home", Mr Corker tweeted.

When he departed the Caracas airport earlier, Holt told The Associated Press that the ordeal had left him "exhausted".

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The White House is thanking the government of Venezuela for releasing an American held in jail for two years but adding that USA policy toward the Maduro regime isn't changing.

Holt, who was arrested in June 2016 while he was in the country for his wedding to his Venezuela-born wife, said he was "overwhelmed" to be back home after two very hard years.

Instead, the couple was arrested that June 30 at her family's apartment in a government housing complex on the outskirts of Caracas. Holt was held in a notorious Caracas prison, and was expected to go on trial in the coming months.

Both Holt and US officials have denied all charges.

An American who was unjustly accused and imprisoned for two years by the Maduro regime was released on Saturday.

Mr Holt was jailed and branded the CIA's top spy in Latin America after travelling to Venezuela from Utah in 2016 to marry Spanish-speaking Mormon Thamara Caleno in the country. But the Republican, who is retiring this year, said it's important for the U.S.to continue to speak out against the "many, many bad things" the Maduro government has done.

Saturday's release may signal a softer approach, at least temporarily.

He apparently was referring to U.S. sanctions, which Washington has tightened since Maduro was reelected on May 20 in elections that the U.S. rejected as a "sham". Maduro went forward with a presidential elections last week that the US has called a "sham". That a United States Senator of his prominence dares to affirm that such a regime "is willing to work with the U.S.to improve relations between the countries" is simply flabbergasting.

Maduro shook hands with Corker in images broadcast on state TV from the presidential palace, which said the two were "strengthening worldwide relationships", without offering more details.

Corker on Friday met personally with President Nicola Maduro. Holt's mother, Laurie Holt, gave him a bear hug, not letting go for almost a minute as they both cried.

Laurie Holt said her son has suffered numerous health problems in jail, including kidney stones and respiratory problems. "In most cases, they're Americans, but we can try and help other countries, too, where there's injustice", the President said.

"We hope this gesture strengthens dialogue and respect toward our independence", Venezuela's Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said of Holt's release in comments broadcast on state television.

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