Trump welcomes freed Venezuelan prisoner to White House

Joshua Holt and Thamara Candelo on their wedding day. Thamara's daughter Nathalia 7 is in the foreground

Joshua Holt and Thamara Candelo on their wedding day. Thamara's daughter Nathalia 7 is in the foreground

"We're grateful to all who participated in this miracle", Holt's family said in a statement.

A Utah man who had been jailed in Venezuela for almost two years has returned to the United States.

Shortly after they married, the couple was arrested by the Venezuelan intelligence service Sebin, and accused of possessing weapons and plotting to destabilise the Maduro government.

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. Hatch was officially notified Friday that Holt's release was being finalized, according to an official familiar with the events, and Corker had kept in close contact with Hatch, who had spoken several times with Maduro about Holt's situation.

But US officials immediately squelched any suggestion that punitive measures against Venezuela would be eased after the release of Joshua Holt, 26, and his wife Thamara Caleno. "It's really special to have you both", the president told Mr. Holt and his bride, Thamy Holt, on Saturday.

The U.S. and Venezuela's political opposition have rejected the elections results, labeling it a sham and voicing concerns about reported irregularities in the voting process.

Corker on Friday met personally with President Nicola Maduro.

Sen. Bob Corker worked for months to secure the release on Saturday of a USA citizen who had been held in a Venezuelan prison for two years, his office confirmed.

One woman interviewed by the Herald, said Holt had been framed with the crime because he was a USA citizen, alleging that she and four other witnesses saw government authorities plant the weapons in Holt's apartment.

Joshua Holt arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport. "The question is, what did the government of the United States offer in exchange for the release of this hostage?".

Both Holt and USA officials have denied all charges.

They were held in a notorious Caracas prison, run by the secret police, that also is home to dozens of top Maduro opponents jailed during the past few years of political unrest in the country.

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. Corker negotiated the release with Maduro.

Holt, 26, of Utah thanked the president and all the government officials who worked to get him out.

While in the Oval Office, Holt acknowledged the time in prison wasn't "the great vacation" he'd hoped for and he and his wife had started their marriage out rough, but his freedom has provided a new beginning for their family. Authorities arrested him on June 30, 2016, and accused him of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades, suggesting his case was linked to other unspecified US attempts to undermine Maduro's rule amid deep economic and political turbulence.

The family was then welcomed to the White House by US President Donald Trump. "To know that we can rely on you, and count on you, and talk to you".

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