Amer­i­can jailed for 2 years on his way home

Stamford Advocate (Sunday) - - Obituaries/News -

Joshua Holt, who trav­eled to Venezuela from Utah in 2016 to marry a Span­ish-speak­ing Mor­mon woman but soon found him­self jailed and later branded the CIA’s top spy in Latin America, was set free by the anti-Amer­i­can Maduro govern­ment on Sat­ur­day in what his fam­ily called “this miracle.”

The re­lease of Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, and their de­par­ture for Wash­ing­ton came one day af­ter an in­flu­en­tial U.S. se­na­tor held a sur­prise meet­ing in Cara­cas with Venezue­lan Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro, who the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion says runs a “dic­ta­tor­ship” and just won re-elec­tion in a “sham” vote.

Their get-to­gether was the re­sult of months of backchan­nel talks be­tween an aide to Sen. Bob Corker, chair­man of the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Com­mit­tee, and al­lies of Maduro. Yet Holt’s re­lease had seemed un­likely even a week ago.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, in a tweet, de­scribed Holt as a “hostage” and said he ex­pected to host Holt and his fam­ily at the White House on Sat­ur­day evening. “Good news about the re­lease,” he wrote. The U.S. con­tended Holt was held on trumped up charges.

The White House learned from Corker, RTenn., on Fri­day of Holt’s im­pend­ing re­lease, ac­cord­ing to a U.S. of­fi­cial who has closely fol­lowed Holt’s plight and spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity to de­scribe the pri­vate talks.

Holt fam­ily photo via AP

Joshua Holt, his wife Thamara and her daugh­ter Mar­ian Leal board a plane at the air­port in Cara­cas, Venezuela, on Sat­ur­day. Jailed in Venezuela on weapons charges nearly two years ago, Holt was re­leased Sat­ur­day af­ter a U.S. se­na­tor pressed for his free­dom in a sur­prise meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Ni­co­las Maduro.

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