Utah Man Released From Venezuela Prison: President Trump

Nicolás Maduro’s recent actions have prompted the United States to impose sanctions against Venezuela

Nicolás Maduro’s recent actions have prompted the United States to impose sanctions against Venezuela

Venezuela released a Utah man Saturday who spent almost two years jailed by the leftist regime of President Nicolas Maduro after secret negotiations by Sen. "The great people of Utah are Celebrating!" tweeted Mr. Trump.

Holt traveled to Venezuela in the summer of 2016 to marry Thamara Candelo, a Venezuelan native, whom he met on a website for Mormon singles, and the two had planned to return to the US together after getting married. Last week, Diosdado Cabello, one of Venezuela's most powerful politicians, called him the "Latin American head" of the Central Intelligence Agency and a "mercenary".

The news of their release comes just days after Venezuela's presidential election.

The Maduro government has yet to comment on the reasons for the release.

Venezuelan authorities claim Holt and his wife were stockpiling weapons, and have suggested they were part of a US plan to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.

The U.S. government at first avoided ratcheting up public pressure on Venezuela amid already strained relations between the two countries, but eventually raised Holt's case to the highest levels of the Venezuela government.

President Trump celebrated the development in some tweets Saturday as the newly released couple are expected to land in D.C. this evening.

FILE - In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah. Orrin Hatch of Utah announced his office was able to help secure the Holt's release.

Holt and his wife were freed overnight and released to the US Embassy in Caracas, according to Foro Penal, a human rights organization of lawyers and others who assist political prisoners in Venezuela.

Aides were asked to prepare for Trump to deliver a statement on Holt's release sometime Saturday night from the White House, a White House official told CNN's Jeff Zeleny.

Holt's mother, Laurie Holt, said all along that her son and his wife were wrongly accused.

In their statement, the Holt family said, "We thank you for your collaboration during this time of anguish".

Latest News