WASHINGTON: Joshua Holt, who traveled to Venezuela from Utah in 2016 to marry a Spanish-speaking Mormon woman but soon found himself jailed and later branded the CIA’s top spy in Latin America, was set free by the anti-American Maduro government on Saturday in what his family called “this miracle.”

Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, arrived Saturday evening at Washington Dulles International Airport for a tearful reunion with his parents, Laurie and Jason Holt. The family was then welcomed to the White House by President Donald Trump.

“I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude,” said an emotional Holt, sitting next to Trump in the Oval Office. “Those two years, they were a very, very, very difficult two years. Not really the great vacation that I was looking for ... I’m just so grateful for what you guys have done.”

Trump praised Holt’s bravery and thanked the lawmakers who lobbied for his release, as well as Holt’s parents. To Holt, Trump said: “You’ve gone through a lot. More than most people could endure.”

When he departed the Caracas airport earlier in the day, Holt told the Associated Press that the ordeal had left him “exhausted.”

Their release came one day after Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., held a surprise meeting in Caracas with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, whom the Trump administration says runs a “dictatorship” and just won re-election in a “sham” vote.

Months of secret, back-channel talks between an aide to Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and close allies of Maduro preceded their return. Yet Holt’s release had seemed unlikely even a week ago.

Trump, in a tweet, described Holt as a “hostage.” The U.S. contended Holt was held on trumped-up charges.

Joining Trump in the Oval Officer were Corker, Utah Sens. Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee and Utah Rep. Mia Love. The lawmakers thanked Trump for his support.

Holt and his wife were reunited at the Caracas airport with her daughter from a previous relationship, and all three boarded a chartered flight to Washington.

“We are on our way home,” Corker tweeted.

Venezuela’s communications minister, Jorge Rodriguez, said their release was a goodwill gesture that followed months of dialogue between the Maduro government and U.S. lawmakers.

“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, now 26, set out for the South American country in June 2016 to marry a woman he met online while he was looking for Spanish-speaking Mormons who could help him improve his Spanish. He had planned to spend several months in Caracas that summer with his new wife and her two daughters, to secure their visas so they could move with him to the U.S.

Instead, the couple was arrested that June 30 at her family’s apartment in a government housing complex on the outskirts of Caracas. Authorities accused him of stockpiling an assault rifle and grenades, and suggested that his case was linked to other unspecified U.S. attempts to undermine Maduro’s rule amid deep economic and political turbulence.

They were held in a notorious Caracas prison, run by the secret police.