News & Politics

American Imprisoned in Venezuela Is Feted at White House Following His Release

Josh Holt's mother Laurie. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

An American who was unjustly accused and imprisoned for two years by the Maduro regime was released on Saturday. He flew immediately to Washington, where he met with Donald Trump.

Josh Holt traveled to Venezuela in June of 2016 to meet his sweetheart, Thamy, whom he met online. A few days after they married, police stormed their apartment and claimed they found a stash of automatic weapons.

For the next two years, Holt endured a living hell. He was so badly treated that the U.S. government was trying to get him released on medical grounds.

Finally, through the Senate office of Senator Orrin Hatch and the State Department, the Maduro government relented and released Josh and his wife from custody.


Holt and his wife were freed overnight and released to the US Embassy in Caracas, according to Foro Penal, a human rights organization of lawyers and others who assist political prisoners in Venezuela. The couple was joined by Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee as they flew back to the US on Saturday afternoon.

The U.S. “offered nothing” to Venezuelan leadership in exchange for the release of Holt, two White House National Security Council officials told CNN.

“We’re grateful to all who participated in this miracle,” Holt’s family said in a statement.

“Over the last two years I’ve worked with two Presidential administrations, countless diplomatic contacts, ambassadors from all over the world, a network of contacts in Venezuela, and President Maduro himself, and I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family in Riverton,” Hatch said in a statement earlier on Saturday.

“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. I want to particularly thank Caleb McCarry, whose expertise and effort in Venezuela on my behalf has been instrumental in bringing Josh home,” he said, referring to an aide of Corker’s.

Corker met with Maduro earlier on Friday. And while the administration says they offered nothing for Holt’s release, it was believed that Maduro was using the American as a bargaining chip to ease sanctions. There are also two Maduro relatives imprisoned in the U.S. for drug crimes. It would not be unusual if, after a suitable length of time, we saw a slight easing of sanctions or a release of the Maduro relatives.

Regardless, Trump can claim credit for another American freed from captivity following the release of three Americans held in North Korea.