Joshua Holt, a United States. citizen detained in Venezuela since July 2016, was released from prison this morning and is en route to his home in the U.S. News of Holt’s release came from U.S. President Donald Trump, who alluded to the fact in a tweet this morning:
Holt was arrested on June 30 2016 while he was in Venezuela to marry his fiance, a Venezuelan woman whom he’d met online. Holt had arrived in the country on June 11 of that same year for the wedding.
Then 24 years-old, Holt was accused by the Maduro regime of being a U.S. spy and of having weapons and explosives in his procession. However, his wife says that the weapons were planted in their apartment by the authorities.
Despite spending nearly two years in prison, Holt’s trial never commenced, so he was simply left to languish indefinitely in jail.
Most recently, Holt appeared in dramatic videos taken inside the El Helicoide prison in Caracas, where he was being held by the regime’s political police, the SEBIN. In the videos, a visibly upset Holt pleaded with the U.S. government to do more to secure his release.
Holt’s mother, Laurie Moon Holt, told El Nuevo Herdald in an article published on May 23 of this year that she had received a desperate phone call from her son from inside prison, and that he had told her that his life was in danger. On the phone call, Moon Holt said:
I could barely hear him, but he said: “Mom, they’re trying to kill me. Mom they’re trying to kill me”. He said, “mom, they’re trying to break into my cell”.
The video below shows Holt preparing to board the plane that took him home earlier this morning. The video was taken at the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia, just north of Caracas. In the video, Holt poses for pictures with a number of people, including U.S. Senator Bob Corker. Corker met with Maduro in Caracas yesterday, presumably to finalize the deal that saw Holt released:
The video below shows Holt preparing to board the airplane:
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio–who often speaks on Venezuelan issues given his constituency, as he represents the state of Florida–wrote the following tweet after finding out about Holt’s release:
Regime Celebrates Holt’s Release
Minister of Communication Jorge Rodriguez spoke favourably on Holt’s release, and said that it was evidence that the Maduro regime wants “dialogue, harmony, respect for our independence, and respect for our sovereignty”.
While Rodriguez stressed that Holt was suspected of being a spy and of being involved in “violence” against Venezuela, he spoke positively about his release. Rodriguez said:
This is a gesture that exalts our President Nicolas Maduro, and we hope that it will be seen by those actors who permanently promote aggression and violence against Venezuela as deep intent to find peace among Venezuelans, and also with people around the world.
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