President Trump welcomes former Venezuela prisoner Josh Holt back to the US

Holt was held in Venezuela for two years

Holt was held in Venezuela for two years

The 26-year-old's long-awaited arrival comes after he spent roughly two years incarcerated in Venezuela after traveling to the country in the summer of 2016 to marry Thamara Candelo. In retaliation, he was branded the CIA's spy boss in Latin America by the head of the ruling socialist party.

The White House learned from Corker on Friday of Holt's impending release, according to a US official who has closely followed Holt's plight and spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private talks.

U.S. President Donald Trump talks to the media as he greet Josh Holt, an American missionary who was released by Venezuela, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, U.S., May 26, 2018. "2207520000.1527388943./1680746842045054/?type=3&theater">Facebook page, he said the reunion came "after two years of hard work". "But if we are engaging with Kim Jong Un, who executes his relatives with high-power artillery at close range, then it would seem to me that engaging with Venezuela, while keeping on all the pressure that we have, would also make some sense". "I'm just so grateful for what you guys have done".

Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for Hatch, said the Utah Republican called Maduro last week after hearing of riots by inmates at the intelligence agency headquarters where Holt was held.

Both senators were at the White House as Trump met Holt and his wife along with his parents and Caleno's daughter from a previous marriage. "Most people don't know that".

Bob Corker, the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had popped up unexpectedly in Caracas to push for Holt's freedom.

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Holt, a Utah native, was released along with his wife, Thamy, according to a statement from Sen.

"You were a tough one", Trump told Holt.

Holt's imprisonment had drawn the attention of multiple U.S. Senators.

Corker on Saturday boarded a jet outside of Caracas with Joshua Holt and his wife destined for Washington. "We are on our way home", Corker tweeted. In this photo released by the Miraflores Presidential Press Office, Venezuela'.

"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.

Holt had traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry Thamara Caleño, whom he met on an online Mormon dating site. They never received a trial, and maintained their innocence. Police arrested the couple after finding an assault rifle and grenades during a raid on a housing complex where the couple lived.

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After Trump tightened the sanctions on Monday, Maduro retaliated by giving the two top United States diplomats in the country 48 hours to leave, accusing them of conspiring against his government.

Laurie Holt said she thinks Maduro - fearing retaliation from the US - made a decision to finally act after her son appeared in a clandestinely-shot video from jail on the eve of this month's presidential election railing against the Venezuelan government, saying his life had been threatened in a prison riot. After Nicolas Maduro was re-elected president earlier this week, the Trump administration imposed new sanctions.

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.

Laurie Holt worked feverishly to bring attention to her son's incarceration, hosting rallies, fundraisers and doing media interviews.

Holt said he was overwhelmed with gratitude for the support he received from the U.S. government while behind bars. "I need your help to get me out of this place", Holt said in the video.

Despite the expulsion of the American diplomats, the Venezuelan government has been seeking ways to avoid the threat of harsh US oil sanctions that could further cripple the country's ailing economy. Reporter John Otis, who covers Venezuela for NPR, joins us now.

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