Please verify

Watch LIVE

American Josh Holt returns home after serving two years in Venezuelan prison for alleged conspiracy

Josh and Thamy Holt arrived Monday evening in Salt Lake City after being released from a Venezuelan prison over the weekend after nearly two years. They had been arrested on alleged weapons charges and conspiring against the country's government. (George Frey/Getty Images)

American Josh Holt was released from a Venezuelan prison over the weekend, nearly two years after being arrested on alleged weapons charges and conspiring against the country's government.

Holt, and his wife, Thamy, were unexpectedly released Saturday and flown to Dulles International Airport in Washington, D.C., where they had an emotional reunion with their family. The couple and their daughter were taken to the White House where President Donald Trump welcomed them home, USA Today reported.

On Friday, Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) traveled to Venezuela where he met with President Nicolas Madura and pressed for Holt's release.

Josh and Thamy were set free the next day.

The Venezuelan government called the couple's release, a gesture of goodwill.

What happened when they arrived in D.C.?

Holt's parents were at the airport for the couple's arrival.

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who had worked for their release over the last two years, accompanied Holt's parents to the airport for their reunion.

"I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family," Hatch said.

Holt's mother, Laurie Holt, greeted her son with a kiss on the cheek and a long hug.

Hatch tweeted a video of the Holt's reunion with his parents.

What happened at the White House?

Trump said Holt had been through a lot over the past two years and called him "brave."

"You were a tough one," Trump told Holt during their visit to the Oval Office. "That was a tough situation."

Holt thanked the president and other officials who worked to secure his release from behind bars.

"I'm just overwhelmed with gratitude," he said. "I'm just so grateful for what you guys have done and for thinking about me and caring about me, just a normal person, so it really touches me and thank you."

Laurie Holt also thanked the president for bringing their family back together.

"I just can't even tell you," she said, adding her gratitude for the lawmakers in Utah who kept working for her son's release. "Thank you, thank you!"

After visiting the White House, the couple was taken to a Washington hospital for medical treatment. They were released Monday morning.

What happened when they got back to Utah?

Monday evening, the family flew home to Utah where they were greeted by a crowd who sung the national anthem for them at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

Holt, who lives in Riverton, briefly addressed the crowd and thanked them for their support.

"We've gotten maybe three or four hours of sleep in four days, but I just want to publicly say thank you to all the people in Utah who were helping us," he said.

And his grandmother, Linda Holt, wrapped her grandson in an American flag and hugged him tightly, Deseret News reported. The flag had been used to drape her husband's coffin, shortly before Josh was taken captive.

What's the backstory?

On June 11, 2016, Holt traveled to Venezuela where he married his then-fiance Thamy Caleño, according to Deseret News.

The couple had met online when Josh, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, was looking online for Spanish-speaking Mormons to help him improve his Spanish, according to USA Today.

They had planned to stay in the country until she received her U.S. visa.

On June 30, Venezuelan police followed Holt to his home where they allegedly found rifles and other military items. The American was arrested on suspicion of conspiracy, and his wife was charged as an accomplice.

U.S. officials, along with Holt's family, called the allegations false.

Most recent
All Articles