A Mormon missionary from Utah who has spent nearly two years in a Venezuela jail without a trial has been released and is coming home.
Joshua Holt traveled to South America in 2016 to marry a fellow Mormon he met online. Shortly after the wedding, the couple was arrested after police alleged they were stockpiling weapons at her family’s apartment in a Caracas public housing project.
President Trump fired off a celebratory tweet Saturday morning, writing “Good news about the release of an American hostage from Venezuela. Should be landing in D.C. this evening and be in the White House with his family, at about 7:00 p.m. The great people of Utah will be very happy!”
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch confirmed he’d secured Holt’s release with the help of Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“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 tweeted.
Hatch added that Holt’s wife, Thamy, was also freed from the Venezuela prison.
Holt’s release comes a week after he issued a desperate social media plea amid an inmate revolt at Caracas’ El Helicoide, or the Helix prison. The 26-year-old shared a pair of videos inside the detention facility and penned several Facebook posts, begging for his release.
“Help me please united states, how long do I have to suffer unjustly in this place?” he wrote. “They want to kill me and paint the walls with my blood. I am political prisoner and they won’t let me free. They won’t give me a true trial.”