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Utah Missionary Set to Be Freed from Venezuela Detention

29 May 2018

Mr. Hatch also thanked Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, a Republican and chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who met with Mr.

President Trump said Saturday morning that he looked forward to welcoming Holt to the White House that evening.

They touched ground in Washington D.C. Saturday before reuniting with family, and meeting with President Trump.

'We have good people working with us, and the folks in this delegation all very sincerely wanted to get Josh out of there, ' he said.

The 26-year-old Holt had gone to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry a woman he met online while he was looking for Spanish-speaking Mormons to help him improve his Spanish.

Trump responded by calling Holt fearless.

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United States sanctions on Venezuela will continue, Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday, despite the release of an American and his wife from a Venezuelan jail. They planned to stay in the country long enough for Thamy to obtain a USA visa.

At the meeting in the White House on Saturday, Trump called Holt "incredibly brave".

The freeing of the Mormon missionary from Utah came despite deepening US-Venezuelan tensions that in the last week saw tit-for-tat expulsions of diplomats, Washington's refusal to recognize the May 20 re-election of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, and the imposition of new US. sanctions on Caracas. In retaliation, socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello, a powerful ally of Maduro, said on state television that Holt was the CIA's top spy in Latin America.

The president used the opportunity to target the previous administration and boast about the other prisoners his administration has freed since he took office, including the three men earlier this month who were let go by North Korea.

"Holt's continued imprisonment was a thorn in the side", he said.

The Holts' direct family will be at the airport, along with U.S. Rep. Mia Love, who will ride with the family to Riverton for the community celebration, according to Saxton.

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

U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he played a small role in bringing home a Utah man jailed in Venezuela for almost two years.

The US contended Mr Holt was held on trumped-up charges.

The release comes amid a shaky period in U.S. -Venezuela relations and just days after Maduro won reelection in a vote that has been widely denounced as illegitimate. "They say they're doing things, but I'm still here", Holt said on May 16 in a clandestine video posted to Facebook, one of several pleas to the US government to free him, The Washington Post reported.

Maduro won a second six-year term in office May 20 in an election that the USA and other countries have described as a "sham" after several rivals were prohibited from running.

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Utah Missionary Set to Be Freed from Venezuela Detention