Trump meets with Utah man who’s back in US after long captivity in Venezuela

Joshua Holt, who flew back to the U.S . on Saturday after being incarcerated in Venezuela since 2016, met with President Trump at the White House following his return.

Trump said it was “a great honor” to have the Holts there when they are endured “a very tough ordeal in a Venezuelan prison.”

It’s “amazing that you were able to take it, ” Trump said.

The president praised the lawmakers involved in securing Holt’s return, including Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, who said in a statement earlier in the day that he was accompanying the Holts back to the U.S.

“We’re home, ” Corker tweeted Saturday evening. “Honored to greet Josh Holt’s parents at the airport. So happy for them.”

The 26 -year-old’s long-awaited arrival goes after he spent roughly two years incarcerated in Venezuela after traveling to the country in the summer of 2016 to wed Thamara Candelo. The pair planned to return to the U.S. after their nuptials, but were jailed in El Hilcolde on what human rights groups told were largely trumped-up charges.


While at the White House, Holt said he was “overwhelmed with gratitude” to those who worked for his freedom. He also thanked his wife for supporting him through the “very difficult two years.”

Holt’s mother, Laurie, also thanked Trump and the lawmakers who brought her son home.

Following Holt’s return to the U.S ., the office of Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, who previously said he had worked for “the last two years” on securing a release, shared an emotional video of Holt reuniting with his family.

An earlier video was also shared by the office presenting Hatch hugging members of Holt’s family before going to the tarmac.

The household was expected to meet with President Trump at the White House Saturday evening, according to the president, who earlier tweeted that he was “looking forward” to it.

A senior administration official is proving to Fox News that “nothing” was offered in exchange for Holt’s release.

Venezuelan authorities claim Holt and his wife were stockpiling weapons, and have suggested they were part of a U.S. plan to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro. But witnesses say they find Venezuelan police, accused of demanding $10,000 from Holt and Candelo, plant weapons just before apprehending the couple — and announcing the discovery of the arms.

Joshua Holt and Thamara Candelo on their bridal day. Thamara’s daughter, Nathalia, 7, is in the foreground. ( Courtesy of Laurie Holt)


Laurie Holt, Joshua’s mother, told Fox News in February that her son’s ordeal has taken an emotional and physical toll on her. A two weeks ago, the 7-year-old daughter of Candelo from a previous matrimony arrived in the United States on a humanitarian visa to live with Joshua Holt’s parents in Utah.

Upon Holt’s return, Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, saying he was “very glad that Josh Holt is now back home with his family- where he has always belonged.”

“Sanctions continue until democracy returns to Venezuela, ” Pence added.

Utah Rep. Mia Love also tweeted after Holt’s flight landed.

“Josh Holt is on American soil again! ” Love tweeted. “His flight just landed in DC. Appearing forward to seeing him! ”

Fox News’ Matt Leech and Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report .

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