Utah Missionary Set to Be Freed from Venezuela Detention

Utah man jailed in Venezuela on weapons charges almost two years ago was released today after a us senator pressed for his freedom in a surprise meeting with President Nicolas Maduro.

Their trial was set to begin this month after repeated delays that led the Trump administration to question the motives for his detention, although until Trump's tweet today, the US had stopped short of publicly calling Holt a "hostage".

The newlyweds were awaiting visas when Venezuelan police raided their apartment and arrested them on charges of terrorism, espionage and illegal possession of weapons.

Holt, a Mormon, flew to Venezuela to marry Thamy Holt, a woman he met online. Authorities accused him of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades, and suggested that his case was linked to other unspecified US attempts to undermine Maduro's rule amid deep economic and political turbulence.

Hatch says Holt's wife had also been released.

Josh Holt, his wife and her child are headed to America after two long years in Venezuelan custody. "They say they're doing things, but I'm still here". "Senator Hatch has worked tirelessly on the Holt family's behalf, and I was honored to play a small role in bringing Josh and his wife home to the United States".

"I want to thank (Senate Foreign Relations Committee) Chairman Bob Corker for his pivotal efforts, and that of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for their help in this effort". Relations between the United States and Venezuela have been strained recently, particularly over the election which last week returned Maduro to power.

Venezuela's communications minister, Jorge Rodriguez, said their release was a goodwill gesture that followed months of dialogue between the Maduro government and USA lawmakers.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) issued a statement Saturday saying he's been working behind-the-scenes for all that time with presidents Obama and Trump to persuade the government of Venezuela to make the release possible.

"Looking forward to seeing Joshua Holt this evening in the White House".

"The great people of Utah will be very happy", Trump wrote.

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