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Trump welcomes American prisoner freed by Venezuela

By IANS Updated: May 27, 2018 11:24 pm
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Joshua Holt, who was recently released from a prison in Venezuela, in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Washington.AP/PTI

Washington, May 27 (IANS): US President Donald Trump welcomed Josh Holt, an American who had been held as a prisoner in Venezuela since 2016, upon his arrival here after being released, the media reported.

“You’ve gone through a lot, more than most people could endure,” the President said to Holt as the two were seated side-by-side in the Oval Office late Saturday night.

“I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude for you guys for everything that you’ve done,” Holt said in response, adding that it had been a “very, very difficult two years”, reports CNN.

Holt, a Utah native, arrived at the White House with his wife, Thamy, who had also been imprisoned, shortly after flying back from Venezuela earlier on Saturday.

After the flight landed, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who said earlier in the day that his office helped secure Holt’s release, posted a video to Twitter showing Holt reuniting with his family.

In his remarks from the White House, Trump also took the opportunity to highlight the release of other Americans held prisoner abroad, including the recent release of three Americans who had been detained by North Korea.

“You were a tough one, I have to tell you, that was a tough situation,” the President said to Holt, adding that he is “very proud” of the administration’s overall track record.

Holt travelled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry Venezuelan Thamara Caleno, reports CNN.

He was arrested shortly afterward and accused by the Venezuelan government of stockpiling weapons and attempting to destabilise the government, according to The Washington Post.

Holt was held for nearly two years without standing trial.

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.

The couple was joined by Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee as they flew back to the US on Saturday afternoon.

Holt’s release comes more than a week after he posted videos to Facebook during a prison riot, pleading for help from Americans and the US government.

By IANS Updated: May 27, 2018 11:24:18 pm