President Donald Trump welcomed Josh Holt, an American who had been held as a prisoner in Venezuela since the summer of 2016, back to the US on Saturday night.
“You’ve gone through a lot, more than most people could endure,” the President said to Holt as the two were seated side-by-side in the Oval Office.
“I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude for you guys for everything that you’ve done,” Holt said, adding that it had been a “very, very difficult two years.”
Holt, a Utah native, arrived at the White House with his wife, Thamy, who had also been imprisoned, shortly after flying back from Venezuela. After the flight landed, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, who said earlier in the day that his office helped secure Holt’s release, posted a video to Twitter showing Holt reuniting with his family.
In his remarks from the White House, Trump thanked Hatch along with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, Utah Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Mia Love of Utah. The President also took the opportunity to highlight the release of other Americans held prisoner abroad, including the recent release of three Americans who had been detained by North Korea.
“You were a tough one, I have to tell you, that was a tough situation,” the President said to Holt, adding that he is “very proud” of the administration’s overall track record.
Trump also said that his administration is “in the midst of some very big negotiations” in an effort to secure the release of other individuals. “In most cases, they’re Americans, but we can try and help other countries, too, where there’s injustice,” the President said.
Holt joked that the time he spent in Venezuela was “not really the great vacation that I was looking for,” and said that he was “so grateful,” describing himself as “a normal person.”
“You’ve been very brave,” Trump said to Holt. “You’ve been incredibly brave.”
Trump ignored a question on if Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro had gotten anything in exchange for the release of Josh Holt. Holt’s mother told CNN he had not.
Earlier, NSC officials told CNN’s Boris Sanchez that the US “offered nothing” to Venezuelan leadership in exchange for the release of Holt.