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American held ‘hostage’ in Venezuela released

WASHINGTON, Joshua Holt, the American who was in custody in Venezuela for two years, was reunited with his family and met with President Donald Trump on Saturday.

The release was made after high-level talks between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, US lawmakers, and State Department officials, the White House said late last night.

During his meeting with Trump in the oval office, Holt said he was “overwhelmed with gratitude.” Trump applauded Holt for his strength while in custody.

“You’ve been very brave, actually. You’ve been incredibly brave,” he said. “We saw what was happening inside of that prison, so you really have been very, very brave.” Holt and his Venezuelan wife, Thamara Caleno were jailed for two years after being accused of stockpiling weapons and grenades, charges the US refuted.

In a separate statement, the US thanked the Maduro regime for releasing Holt and Caleno.

“The release of Joshua Holt does not change United States policy. The Maduro regime must call free, fair, and transparent elections, consistent with its constitution,” said the statement from White House Spokesperson Sarah Sanders. “The United States will continue to use all available tools and options to pressure the Maduro regime to abide by democratic norms.” Last Wednesday, the US ordered two Venezuelan diplomats to leave the country in 48 hours, following the expulsion of American officials from Venezuela.

The State Department declared the Charge d’Affaires of the Venezuelan embassy and the Deputy Consul General of the Venezuelan consulate in Houston, Texas personae non grata

Source: Kuwait News Agency