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American freed by Venezuela after 2 years in prison returns home

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An American man freed from captivity in Venezuela on Saturday after being imprisoned for nearly two years arrived in the United States and said he is “overwhelmed with gratitude” to those who helped secure his freedom.

Joshua Holt, 26, was released by Venezuela on Saturday along with his wife, Thamy, who had been held since 2016.

American freed by Venezuela after 2 years in prison returns home
American freed by Venezuela after 2 years in prison returns home

“I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude,” Holt said in a meeting with President Donald Trump and others at the White House Saturday night. He said the years of detention were very difficult.

Reunited. pic.twitter.com/Lb43PfEVXQ

— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) May 26, 2018

“Not really the great vacation that I was looking for, but we’re still together,” Holt said. “Starting off a marriage rough, but now we’re going to be together.”

“I’m just so grateful for what you guys have done — and for thinking about me, and caring about me, just a normal person,” he said. “So it really touches me, and thank you.”

Holt, a Morman missionary, flew to Venezuela approximately two years ago to marry Thamara Caleno, a Mormon woman he met online.

Venezuelan law enforcement allege that the American man had stockpiled weapons in his wife’s family’s apartment inside a public housing complex in Caracas, the nation’s capital. The two have been held without trial since they were arrested shortly after the wedding in 2016.

The State Department has called the weapons charges “questionable.”

Trump at the meeting at the White House Saturday welcomed Holt and his family, and told Holt: “You’ve gone through a lot. More than most people could endure.”

Image: Donald Trump, Joshua Holt
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Joshua Holt, who was recently released from a prison in Venezuela, in the Oval Office of the White House on May 26, 2018, in Washington.Alex Brandon / AP

“We are all as a group very happy,” Trump said. The president thanked the efforts of Rep. Mia Love and Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who helped broker the release and returned from Venezuela with Holt and his wife.

Love, R-Utah, tweeted shortly before 7 p.m. ET that “Josh Holt is on American soil again! His flight just landed in DC.” Vice President Mike Pence said on Twitter: “Very glad that Josh Holt is now back home with his family – where he has always belonged.”

Holt in a series of texts to NBC News Saturday afternoon said that “you can’t judge a group of people … because of the actions of a few people,” and “I have nothing against the people of Venezuela.”

“I know that it would be impossible to thank all of the people that helped my wife and I in our difficult situation. I know there were many tears shed and some sleepless nights,” Holt said in the texts. “The only thing I can do is say thank you from the bottom of my heart, thank you for the support, your prayers, and for never giving up and leaving us behind. May God bless you all.”

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