Orrin Hatch

Backchannel, official nicknamed 'Dracula' help free Utah man in Venezuela

Backchannel, official nicknamed 'Dracula' help free Utah man in Venezuela

A secret backchannel led by a veteran Republican Senate staffer and a flamboyant Venezuelan official nicknamed "Dracula" broke through hostile relations between the two governments to secure the release of American prisoner Joshua Holt, who traveled to the South American country for love and ended up in jail, without a trial, for two years.

A week ago the chances of Holt's long ordeal ending any time soon looked slim.

On the eve of Venezuela's May 20 presidential election, the Utah native appeared in a clandestinely shot video from jail railing against Nicolas Maduro's government, saying his life had been threatened in a prison riot. In retaliation, he was branded...

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