U.S. hostage, wife to be released from Venezuela after nearly 2 years

By Sommer Brokaw  |  May 26, 2018 at 12:09 PM
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May 26 (UPI) -- U.S. hostage Josh Holt, of Utah, and his wife, Thamy, will be released from Venezuela Saturday after nearly two years of captivity, U.S. officials said Saturday.

"Good news about the release of the American hostage from Venezuela," President Donald Trump tweeted on Saturday morning. "Should be landing in D.C. this evening and be in the White House, with his family, at about 7:00 P.M. The great people of Utah will be very happy!"

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said it was a two-year effort to secure their release.

"I'm pleased to announce that after two years of hard work, we've secured the release of Josh and [his wife] Thamy Holt, who are now on their way home to the United States from Venezuela," Hatch tweeted Saturday. "Over the last two years, I've worked with two presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts, ambassadors from all over the world, a network of contacts in Venezuela, and President [Nicolas] Maduro himself, and I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton."

Josh Holt, now 26, went to Venezuela to marry Thamara Caleno Candelo, now Thamy Holt, after meeting her online. They planned to stay in the country long enough for Thamy to obtain a U.S. visa.

But the couple were arrested in June 2016 after police raided the Caracas apartment Josh Holt was staying in with his wife. Police allegedly found a cache of weapons and evidence he was involved in the assassination plot of a Venezuelan official. But the former missionary and his family said police planted those items.

His family denied all the charges and said that they were actually being held hostage to bargain with the United States due to its economic sanctions on Venezuela, the Salt Lake Tribune reported.

Holt has faced many setbacks in his case and personal health over his time in prison.

In an audio recording last year, Holt pleaded for help.

"Guys, I don't feel very good ... I'm very dizzy and I can't think and my stomach hurts," Holt said. "Super bad. I don't know what to do. I've never felt like this before."

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