Trump welcomes freed American after 'ordeal' - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Trump welcomes freed American after 'ordeal'

Posted: Updated:
WASHINGTON -

The Latest on the release of a Utah man, Joshua Holt, who has been held in Venezuela (all times local):
  
9 p.m.
  
President Donald Trump has welcomed to the White House an American held for two years in a Venezuelan jail, saying the Utah man has undergone a "very tough ordeal."
  
Twenty-six-year-old Joshua Holt and his wife arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. Venezuelan officials released the Holts after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. lawmakers.
  
Sitting with Trump and other U.S. officials, Holt said he was "overwhelmed with gratitude" for those who worked for his release.
  
Trump says 17 prisoners have been freed from overseas captivity since he's been president and that others would be coming.
  
___
  
8:10 p.m.
  
The wife of the American man held for two years in jail in Venezuela says they worried until their plane was in the air that their release and flight to the U.S. would somehow fall apart.
  
Joshua Holt and his wife arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. Venezuelan officials released the Holts after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. lawmakers.
  
Holt's wife, Thamara Caleno, exchanged text messages with The Associated Press as she and Holt were traveling. She says that a fellow inmate at their Caracas jail relayed information Friday night that prison officials were discussing their release.
  
At 10 that night, a warden asked to see them, then every two hours afterward they were awakened to have their pictures taken as part of a heightened security protocol.
  
The next morning, they were told to pack their things and prepare to go.
  
___
  
7:15 p.m.
  
A Utah man who had been jailed in Venezuela for nearly two years has returned to the United States.
  
A White House official says Joshua Holt arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. The official isn't authorized to speak about the matter by name.
  
Venezuelan officials released Holt after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. lawmakers. Holt and his wife were jailed for nearly two years on weapons charges that U.S. officials consider bogus.
  
The release of Holt and his wife and their departure for Washington came one day after Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee held a surprise meeting in Caracas with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.
  
___
  
3:25 p.m.
  
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker says he played a small role in bringing home a Utah man jailed in Venezuela for nearly two years.
  
Corker on Saturday boarded a jet outside of Caracas with Joshua Holt and his wife destined for Washington. Venezuelan police arrested the couple on weapons charges and held them without trial.
  
U.S. officials all along considered the charged bogus.
  
The Republican senator from Tennessee says much of the credit for Holt's release goes to his staffer Caleb McCarry for his dogged determination.
  
He says fellow Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah worked tirelessly for Holt's family.
  
Corker on Friday met personally with President Nicola Maduro. State TV showed the two men at the presidential palace warmly shaking hands.
  
It follows a meeting that Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois had in April with Maduro to urge Holt's release.
  
___
  
2:45 p.m.
  
A Utah man newly freed from a Venezuelan jail has been seen boarding a private jet that's expected to take him to Washington. Joshua Holt was wearing a bright orange backpack and was surrounded by supporters.
  
Venezuelan officials released Holt on Saturday after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and U.S. lawmakers. Holt and his wife were jailed nearly two years on weapons charges that U.S. officials considered bogus.
  
Photos show Sen. Bob Corker at Holt's side, helping carry a large black duffel bag. Corker negotiated the release with Maduro.
  
___
  
1:40 p.m.
  
Venezuela's chief spokesman says a Utah man and his wife jailed in Caracas for two years have been freed and are on their way to the United States.
  
Communications Minister Jorge Rodrigues said Saturday that the release of Joshua Holt follows months of dialogue between President Nicolas Maduro and representatives of the United States.
  
Holt was arrested on weapons charged during a trip to Venezuela to marry a woman he'd met on a website to practice Spanish. U.S. officials say the charges were trumped up.
  
___
  
10 a.m.
  
The family of a Utah man jailed in a Venezuelan jail for two years calls his release a miracle.
  
A statement that relatives provided Saturday confirms that Joshua Holt and his wife will be freed from detention in the capital of Caracas. The couple was arrested on weapons charges that U.S. officials dismiss as trumped up.
  
President Donald Trump says in a tweet that he expects to greet Holt at the White House later Saturday.
  
Holt's family expresses its gratitude for all who worked for his release.
  
They also ask to be allowed to meet Holt and his wife before making any public statements.

(Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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