Sunday, 27 May 2018

Joshua Holt case: US sanctions 'to stay' despite the release of a US prisoner and his wife on Saturday

US Vice-President Mike Pence says sanctions will remain on Venezuela despite the release of a US prisoner and his wife on Saturday.

Joshua Holt and his Venezuelan wife Thamy arrived in the US accompanied by Senator Bob Corker, who helped negotiate their release.

Mr Holt later met President Donald Trump at the White House.

Mr Holt and his wife had been imprisoned in Venezuela for two years on charges of concealing weapons.

"Very glad that Josh Holt is now back home with his family - where he has always belonged," Mr Pence wrote in a tweet. "Sanctions continue until democracy returns to Venezuela."
The couple were detained in 2016 at her family's house in the capital Caracas while waiting for US visas, and accused of hiding weapons. Both were jailed for two years.

Mr Corker had held talks on Friday with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

The US senator shared a picture of himself with the couple after their release, adding: "We are on our way home."

Twitter post by @SenBobCorker: I am pleased to join Senator Hatch and President Trump in announcing the release of Josh and Thamy Holt. We are on our way home.

Sitting alongside Mr Holt in the Oval Office, President Trump told him he had been "incredibly brave."

"It's amazing that you were able to take it... that was a tough situation," he said with Mr Holt's family looking on.

Mr Holt said he was "overwhelmed" to be back home.

"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 added. "It really touches me."

Joshua Holt's father Jason Holt, daughter Marian Leal, mother Laurie Holt and wife Thamara Candelo listen during a meeting with President Donald Trump at The White House on May 26, 2018

A spokesman for Mr Maduro said the couple's release was a "gesture" aimed at improving dialogue between Venezuela and the US.

Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump: Good news about the release of the 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!
Twitter post by @realDonaldTrump: Looking forward to seeing Joshua Holt this evening in the White House. The great people of Utah are Celebrating!

BBC      News.

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