Utahn Josh Holt featured during the GOP convention with other returned American hostages

(Alex Brandon | AP file photo) In this May 26, 2018, file photo President Donald Trump shakes hands with Joshua Holt, soon after his release from a prison in Venezuela, in the Oval Office of the White House.

Utah native Josh Holt was one of six Americans brought home after being held hostage or prisoner by hostile foreign governments who was featured during the first night of the Republican National Convention.

Holt and his Venezuelan-born wife, Thamara “Thamy” Caleno Holt, appeared with the other five former hostages in a taped sit-down at the White House with President Donald Trump. A slickly produced introductory clip praised the president for always putting Americans first and using his negotiating prowess to “bring them home.”

Trump called Holt’s May 2018 release “a little bit of a miracle,” and Holt quickly agreed. In addition to crediting Trump for securing his freedom, Holt noted the sustained efforts of former Sen. Orrin Hatch.

“It’s been great to be back,” Holt said.

The made-for-prime-time event was denounced as crass political exploitation by Jason Rezaian, a former Washington Post Tehran bureau chief who was wrongly imprisoned in Iran for more than 1½ years before his release in the summer of 2016.

“Bringing hostages home safely is always a reason for great joy. But using us for political gain is disgusting,” he tweeted.

During the White House discussion, Trump asked Holt if he still lived in Utah and was pleased when he answered in the affirmative.

“Say hello to the folks in Utah because they’re great people,” Trump said.

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