Josh Holt and wife receiving medical treatment before return to Utah
(KUTV) — Josh Holt, the Utah man who was released from a Venezuelan prison, spent his first full day of freedom in the U.S. undergoing a medical check up at Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
His return to Utah could happen Monday or Tuesday depending on how his medical tests and exams turn out.
Holt's wife Thamy, who was released from the same prison, was in the hospital too. Her 9-year-old daughter Marian was also with the couple.
Holt's parents said their son needed some time to recover after the whirlwind events that brought him back to the safety of U.S. soil.
He was in need of medical attention after not eating well for the past two years and after a lack of medical treatment after a parasite attacked his intestine.
His mother also said he would need some time to adjust emotionally.
"He's gone from being captive to having to make decisions," Laurie Holt, Josh's mother said.
Laurie Holt and Jason Holt said doctors would decide when their son and his family are ready to head back to Utah. The last 24 hours have been a whirlwind for the Holt family.
When Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee secured Josh Holt's release along with his wife's and her child, they boarded a plane for the U.S.
Soon after take-off, there was a problem with the plane.
The engines shut down, according to Holt's father.
For a moment, Josh Holt thought the plane would have to turn around and head back to Venezuela.
He wondered whether Venezuela's President, Nicolas Maduro had something to do with the plane issues.
"For all he knew, Maduro changed his mind. Until they were out of the air in Venezuela he wasn't confident," Jason Holt said.
The Holts are grateful to U.S. leaders who helped get their son out prison.
Jason Holt said what happened to his son shows that the U.S. government cares about its people.
"He wasn't a hero in the Middle East somewhere, he was a normal guy but the government still stood behind him and worked, worked, worked and got him out. America's the greatest country in the world," he said.
Holt went to Venezuela two years ago looking for love.
He met Thamy on a dating website and went to Venezuela to marry her.
Soon after they were married, police showed up at their family's apartment and arrested the couple accusing them of stockpiling weapons.
They were thrown into jail.
Holt and his family said the charges were trumped up.
Holt never got a court hearing in Venezuela.
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch said the negotiations for Josh Holt's release started months earlier.
Hatch said he spoke with Maduro several times over the phone and tried to have a respectful conversation.
They talked about the fact that Holt was a religious man from a good family. They also discussed his Mormon faith.
Hatch said there was no negotiation.
"He didn't ask anything and we didn't offer anything. We just pleaded with him that we would like Josh to be with his parents," Hatch said.
Hatch then asked his colleague, Corker, to go to Venezuela on Friday.
Corker and one of his staffers met with Maduro who agreed to free the Holts.
Hatch thinks Maduro wants to improve relations with the U.S.
While Hatch said Maduro has many opponents and people of his tactics to stay in power, he's willing to hear him out.
"He's got a friend in me. I hope we can restore relations in that country," he said.
Josh Holt's mother said Josh will tell his own story when he is better, but she thinks he will use his voice to help people in Venezuela.
She is grateful to Maduro.
"He didn't have to let him go," she said.
Joshs Holts father said his son will learn from this experience and grow.
For now, he has one wish for him.
"To fade away. Fade away out of the lime light let him start his life with his family," he said.