Venezuela ‘hostage’ flying home to meet family at White House

Joshua Holt and Thamara Candelo on their wedding day. Thamara's daughter Nathalia 7 is in the foreground

Holt and his wife's release come less than a week after Maduro secured reelection in Venezuela's widely denounced presidential election. In retaliation, socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello, a powerful ally of Maduro, said on state television that Holt was the CIA's top spy in Latin America.

Holt and his wife, accompanied by Sen.

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

Matt Whitlock, a spokesman for Hatch, said the Utah Republican called Maduro last week after hearing of riots by inmates at the intelligence agency headquarters where Holt was held.

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The announcement came as a the Venezuelan government had appeared to be doubling down on claims that Holt was a USA government agent.

President Donald Trump said via Twitter that Holt will arrive Saturday night in Washington, D.C., where he will be reunited with his family at the White House. Authorities arrested him on June 30, 2016, and accused him of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades, suggesting his case was linked to other unspecified USA attempts to undermine Maduro's rule amid deep economic and political turbulence. The U.S. contended Holt was held on trumped up charges.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who has advocated for Holt's release, said he's "honored" to be able to finally reunite the Utah native with his family.

"Josh had posted videos and pled for help so Senator Hatch made one final plea directly to President Maduro that set wheels in motion", Whitlock wrote in an email to Reuters. His wife also was jailed on allegations of being Holt's accomplice. Holt's mother, Laurie Holt, said all along that her son and his wife were wrongly accused. We ask that you allow us to meet with our son and his wife before giving any interviews and statements.

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