Freed hostages talk with Trump during the Republican National Convention

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President Donald Trump hosted a roundtable during the first night of the Republican National Convention with hostages who have been freed from being detained in other countries during his administration. They included Michael White, a veteran from the U.S. Navy who was detained two years ago while he was visiting his girlfriend in Iran; Sam Goodwin, who was detained in 2019 after crossing into Syria from Iraq without a visa; Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was accused of being part of a terrorist group and held in Turkey while doing work there; Joshua and Tamara Holt, who were arrested and held in Venezuela, and Pastor Bryan Nerran, who was arrested in India in 2019 for not declaring $40,000 and was released this year.


President Trump: We have six incredible people who were held hostage by various countries, and I’m very pleased to let everybody know that we brought back over 50 hostages from 22 different countries. We work very hard on it, Ambassador O’Brien and others. I will tell you, we’re very proud of the job we did, but I’d like to ask maybe Pastor Brunson to say a few words or we can go through and just give us a little history of what happened and how is life treating you?

Andrew Brunson: I was held in Turkey for two years and you took unprecedented steps, actually, to secure my release and your administration really fought for me. I think if you hadn’t done that, I may still be in Turkey. I’m very grateful for that.

President Trump: Could have been there for 28 years, right? They had you scheduled for a long time, Andrew. We had to get you back. I have to say that to me, President Erdogan was very good. I know that had you scheduled for a long time and you were a very innocent person and ultimately, after we had a few conversations, he agreed. So we appreciate that and we appreciate the people of Turkey and you still appreciate the people of Turkey. I understand. Right?

Andrew Brunson: I love the Turkish people. [inaudible 00:17:47].

President Trump: It’s great to have you back, Andrew. Thank you. Please.

Sam Goodwin: Mr. President, thank you for having me. My name is Sam Goodwin. I’m from St. Louis, Missouri. I was held in Syria for 63 days and I think I speak for my fellow former hostages and detainees here when I say I’m as grateful as I’ve ever been for anything to be home safely, and thank you for the invitation and opportunity to be here. Particularly Ambassador O’Brien was incredibly supportive and helpful to my family and I can’t say enough nice things about him. Thank you for promoting him and just really happy to be here. So thank you.

President Trump: We got you back.

Sam Goodwin: You got me back, yeah.

President Trump: We got you all back and we have some more that we’re working on right now to get back that we better do. Please, go ahead.

Michael White: My name is Michael White, Mr. President. Once again, it’s an honor to be here, honor to meet you in person. Basically what had happened with me is I traveled over to the country of Iran. Turned out it was a major, major trap, and I was apprehended there. I went through a lot in their injustice system, the Iranian justice system. Iran is an oppressive, extortionist, terrorist regime. You know what I’m talking about. But what you did, sir, is you were able to get me out of that prison record time. It was amazing.

President Trump: Thank you very much.

Michael White: Thank you, Mr. President. The honor is all mine.

President Trump: Please.

Josh Holt: Yeah. My name is Josh Holt. This is my wife Tammy. We were held hostage in Venezuela for two years.

President Trump: I know very well.

Josh Holt: You helped us get out. Senator Hatch worked with you very well on that as well. It was a great honor to be able to meet you right when we got back. I remember a lot of people asked me, “What was it like meeting President Trump?” I just say, “I was blown away.” I had just gotten released after two years, then I’m shaking the hand of the president in the Oval Office. I don’t really remember a whole lot of it. So it’s nice to meet you again, and it’s been great. It’s been great to be back helping people through situations that they’ve gone through. Now we have started our family.

President Trump: Well, the great people of Utah really wanted me to do something about the two of you. We were able to do it and a little bit of a miracle, I think, frankly.

Josh Holt: It was.

President Trump: Because that was a very hostile period, and we appreciate everybody working so hard with us, but we were able to get you both back. Are you living in Utah now, I hope?

Josh Holt: We’re still in Utah.

President Trump: That’s good. Well, say hello to the folks in Utah because they are great people. Thank you very much. Congratulations.

Josh Holt: Thank you.

President Trump: Please.

Brad: Brad [inaudible], spent a unexpected trip there in India. I was not going to India. I was going through India to Nepal, where I’d been working for the last 18 years. But on behalf of my family and myself, thank you, President Trump for getting us out and getting us home. The darkest moment of our whole time together, your letter to my wife came and it really gave her the hope and the peace and from that time forward, as more people got involved, especially the ambassador there in India, things became more peaceful and the hope was there for the last four months that we really would get to come home because they had planned on keeping me for three to five years. The original charge thing was three to five years and that was cleared, and then they came up with new charges to do a seven year term.

President Trump: Well, India responded very well to my request. So we appreciate that.

Brad: And appreciate everything y’all did.

President Trump: Thank you all for being with us. We have a few more people we want to get back and we will get them back and they’ll be back very soon. Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Great stories.

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