American missionary Josh Holt, held by Venezuela without trial on weapons charges since 2016, was heading home with his wife on Saturday after the South American country's socialist government unexpectedly released him.
President Donald Trump, in a tweet, described Holt as a "hostage" and said he expected to host Holt and his family at the White House on Saturday evening. 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!
The Holts were arrested by Venezuelan authorities in 2016 for supposedly keeping weapons in her home, a claim that Josh Holt has denied.
Just this past week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he anxious that President Nicolas Maduro expelling the top USA diplomat in the country would hinder efforts to free Holt.More news: Mohamed Salah leaves Champions League final in tears with shoulder injury
There has not been any official confirmation or comment from President Nicolás Maduro's government.
"I could not be more honored to be able to reunite Josh with his sweet, long-suffering family", Hatch said.
"We are grateful to all who participated in this miracle", Mr. Holt's family said in a statement.
United States authorities had been denied access to a court hearing on Holt's case in December, with Trump labelling the USA citizen a "hostage" of the Venezuela administration. Orrin Hatch announced Saturday morning. US Rep. Mia Love, a Utah Republican, tweeted, "After almost 2 years, Josh Holt is finally coming home!"
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.
Hatch also credited the efforts of Caleb McCarry, "whose expertise and effort in Venezuela on my behalf (have) been instrumental in bringing Josh home".