Utah man freed from Venezuela jail returns home to Salt Lake City

0
685

Josh Holt, the American man who was freed on Saturday after spending nearly two years in a Venezuelan jail, returned home to Utah on Monday with his wife.

Holt, 26, was greeted at Salt Lake City airport Monday by a cheering crowd of family members, politicians and friends holding colorful signs with messages like, “We never gave up.” They sang the national anthem together as Holt’s grandmother draped an American flag around his shoulders.

Josh Holt, left, makes a statement to the media with his wife, Thamara Caleno, right, upon their arrival in Salt Lake City after receiving medical care and visiting President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday, May 28, 2018. Holt, and his Venezuelan wife were locked in a Caracas jail alongside some of the country's most-hardened criminals - and President Nicolas Maduro's top opponents - for what the U.S. government argued were bogus charges of stockpiling weapons. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

Josh Holt returned home with his wife, Thamara Candelo, on Monday after spending nearly two years in a Venezuelan jail.  (AP)

“Today we’re not going to take any questions, as you guys all know it’s been very, very long three or four– I’m not sure how many days it’s been,” Holt said at the airport. “We’ve gotten maybe four hours of sleep in four days, but I just wanted to publicly say thank you to all the people here.”

Holt and his wife, Thamara Candelo, attended another welcome home event at Riverton’s Old Dome Meeting Hall less than an hour after he arrived in the Utah city.

Josh Holt, right, returns with wife, Thamara Caleno, left, and daughter, Marian, bottom, to a crowd of friends and family in Salt Lake City after receiving medical care and visiting President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday, May 28, 2018. Holt and his wife were freed this weekend after being held in a Vfenezuelan jail for nearly two years. Holt's parents Laurie and Jason Holt stand in the background. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

Josh Holt returned with wife, Thamara Caleno, left, and daughter, Marian, bottom, to a crowd of friends and family in Salt Lake City.  (AP)

Candelo’s daughter, 7-year-old Nathalia Carrasco, was also at the Salt Lake City homecoming. The child had been living with Holt’s mother, Laurie Holt, since February. Candelo’s other daughter, Marian, traveled with the couple from Caracas.

UTAH MAN INCARCERATED IN VENEZUELA JAIL IS ON HIS WAY HOME, OFFICIALS SAY

Holt traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry his fiancée whom he met on a website for Mormon singles. They were awaiting their U.S. visas when Venezuelan authorities took them into custody and accused them of stockpiling weapons. Venezuelan authorities suggested they were part of a U.S. plan to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro.

Josh Holt, left, is draped in an American flag by his grandmother Linda Holt upon returning to Salt Lake City on Monday, May 28, 2018, as he was freed this weekend after being held in a Venezuelan jail for nearly two years. He returned home to Salt Lake City on Monday night after getting medical care and visiting President Donald Trump in Washington. (AP Photo/Kim Raff)

Holt’s grandmother, Linda Holt, draped an American flag on Josh Holt’s shoulder upon his return to Salt Lake City.  (AP)

President Trump announced on Saturday Holt was released and headed to Washington, D.C. Trump then met with Holt in the White House.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch’s office said in a statement that he couldn’t be more honored to reunite the Utah native with his family. Hatch’s office also thanked Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker for his “pivotal efforts” and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee for its role.

President Donald Trump, right, talks with Joshua Holt, who was recently released from a prison in Venezuela, in the Oval Office of the White House, Saturday, May 26, 2018, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump talked with Joshua Holt, who was recently released from a prison in Venezuela, in the Oval Office.  (AP)

Laurie Holt said her son is in good health but lost weight, suffered a number of bronchial problems in prison and has a rotten tooth that needed checking out. Caleno has more serious pain issues on one side of her body.

“He’s not the same Josh that left,” said Laurie Holt. “He just doesn’t quite have that sparkle back yet in his eyes. He’ll come back, I know he will. We just have to give him time.”

Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam