Joshua Holt, an American hostage recently released as a political prisoner in Venezuela, remains in the hospital with his wife with the couple soon planning to return to their home state of Utah.
“Josh and Thamy and [Thamy’s daughter] Marian are … in the hospital still currently. They will hopefully be released tomorrow We [sic] are being told,” Holt’s mother, Laurie, wrote in a Facebook post. “We want to come home as soon as possible. At this time we are looking to return on Tuesday.”
Holt, 26, was arrested and jailed in Caracas in June 2016 after he traveled to Venezuela to marry his wife and work as a Mormon missionary.
During his imprisonment, Holt’s health significantly deteriorated. According to his family, Holt lost 50 pounds and developed kidney stones, bronchitis, and internal bleeding, among other health-related issues. They also revealed prison guards routinely tortured their son, forcing him to perform gym exercises naked in front of other prisoners that required him to violate Mormon practices of modesty.
On Saturday, officials confirmed Holt’s release from Venezuela, just weeks after he made an online plea during a prison riot at the Helicoide facility where he was imprisoned.
“Helicoide the prison where I am at has fallen [sic] the guards are here and people.are trying to break in my room and kill me [sic],” he said. “They want to kill me and paint the walls with my blood.”
Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Bob Corker (R-TN) were reportedly instrumental in negotiations surrounding the release. However, there is speculation that socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro approved his release in an attempt to ease the economic sanctions imposed by the U.S. on his regime.
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) May 26, 2018
Holt’s father, Jason, told KUTV that the engines on his son’s flight back to the U.S. shut down shortly after takeoff, leading to fears that Maduro had changed his mind.
“For all he knew, Maduro changed his mind. Until they were out of the air in Venezuela he wasn’t confident,” said Jason Holt. “He wasn’t a hero in the Middle East somewhere, he was a normal guy but the government still stood behind him and worked, worked, worked and got him out. America’s the greatest country in the world.”
On Saturday evening, Holt met with Trump at the White House, where Holt commented that his trip was “not really the great vacation that I was looking for.”
“I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude,” he said during his meeting with Trump. “I’m just so grateful for what you guys have done and for thinking about me and caring about me, just a normal person, so it really touches me and thank you.”