Joshua Holt case: US sanctions 'to stay' despite prisoner release | 2018-05-27 |

Joshua Holt case: US sanctions 'to stay' despite prisoner release

BBC     27th May, 2018 09:22:21 printer

Joshua Holt case: US sanctions 'to stay' despite prisoner release


US Vice-President Mike Pence says sanctions will remain on Venezuela despite the release of a US prisoner and his wife on Saturday.


Joshua Holt and his Venezuelan wife Thamy Candelo arrived in the US accompanied by Senator Bob Corker, who helped negotiate their release.


Mr Holt later met President Donald Trump at the White House.


Mr Holt and his wife had been imprisoned in Venezuela for two years on charges of concealing weapons.


"Very glad that Josh Holt is now back home with his family - where he has always belonged," Mr Pence wrote in a tweet. "Sanctions continue until democracy returns to Venezuela."


The couple were detained in 2016 at her family's house in the capital Caracas while waiting for US visas, and accused of hiding weapons. Both were jailed for two years.


Mr Corker had held talks on Friday with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.


The US had previously accused Venezuela of using Mr Holt as a bargaining chip towards changing Washington's sanctions policy on the country.



Mr Holt is a former Mormon missionary from Utah who had travelled to Caracas in June 2016 to marry his Venezuelan girlfriend, Thamy Candelo.


She is also a Mormon and the couple intended that Ms Candelo and her children would move with Mr Holt to the US following the marriage, but they were arrested instead.


Venezuela is five years into an economic crisis, suffering from hyperinflation and severe shortages in food and medicine.


Turnout was low in last Sunday's election, boycotted by much of the opposition. Mr Maduro was credited with winning 68% of the vote.


Mr Maduro was re-elected to a six-year term last week, but Washington has refused to recognise the outcome. The election was marred by an opposition boycott and allegations of vote-rigging.