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They were tied around trees, poles, fences and other items as a way for the community to welcome home Josh Holt, who had been held captive in a Venezuelan prison for almost two years. In retaliation, he was branded the CIA's spy boss in Latin America by the head of the ruling socialist party.

A White House statement issued later thanked the "Maduro regime for releasing the unjustly detained United States citizen", but insisted USA pressure would continue until Venezuela holds fresh presidential elections. Earlier, President Donald Trump said via Twitter that Holt will arrive Saturday night in Washington, D.C., where he will be reunited with his family at the White House.

"Those two years, they were a very, very, very hard two years".

He also joked that serving time in Venezuela was "not really the great vacation that I was looking for".

Fear of President Trump's commitment and decisiveness to help our people was the fundamental pivotal in the Holt case, and not what Senator Corker wrongly concluded, that "there are people who really want to affect the relationship in a good way" in the Venezuelan regime.

He told Mr Holt said: "You've gone through a lot".

Venezuelan officials released 26-year-old Joshua Holt of Utah and his Venezuelan wife on Saturday after talks between President Nicolas Maduro and USA lawmakers. Trump said Holt's case had proved hard and lawmakers, along with members of the State Department, had been working tirelessly to have him released.

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"Looking forward to seeing Joshua Holt this evening in the White House", he tweeted.

Until Trump's tweet on Saturday, the US had stopped short of publicly calling Holt a "hostage". (Holt family photo via AP) In this image provided by the Holt family, Joshua Holt, his wife Thamara and her daughter Marian.

"We are on our way home", Mr Corker tweeted. The President also took the opportunity to highlight the release of other Americans held prisoner overseas, including the recent release of three Americans who had been detained by North Korea.

"We're praying that this type of gesture... will allow us to strengthen what we've always sought: dialogue, harmony, respect for our independence and respect for our sovereignty", he said.

Holt traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry a woman, Thamara Candelo, who he met online.

Venezuela's chief spokesman says a Utah man and his wife jailed in Caracas for two years have been freed and are on their way to the United States.

Instead, the couple was arrested at her family's government housing complex on the outskirts of Caracas.

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Shortly afterward he was arrested and accused by the Venezuelan government of stockpiling weapons and attempting to destabilize the government.

Earlier in May, Holt made a desperate Facebook plea for help after a riot at the prison where they were held.

Venezuelan officials released Holt after high-level talks between President Nicolas Maduro and USA lawmakers. US financial sanctions have sharply contributed to the Venezuelan economy's nose dive, and fears have built that the United States - the largest cash buyer of Venezuelan oil - would impose a potentially crippling embargo.

The release happened even with U.S. -Venezuela relations at a low ebb.

Corker was seen live on state TV on Friday shaking hands with Maduro and being greeted by first lady Cilia Flores as he entered the presidential palace.

Laurie Holt worked feverishly to bring attention to her son's incarceration, hosting rallies, fundraisers and doing media interviews. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who has Trump's ear on policy toward Venezuela, the administration refused to meet with Maduro's envoy. Senior US administration officials said the instruments had been used to garner much-needed revenue for the cash-starved regime.

Holt said he was overwhelmed with gratitude for the support he received from the USA government while behind bars.

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In a statement Sunday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo nodded to the efforts of those who had followed Holt's plight.


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