Utah man imprisoned in Venezuela needs medical help

ST. GEORGE – A 24-year-old Utah man has been in jail in Venezuela since his arrest on June 30 on alleged weapons possession charges, weapons his family believes were planted in his apartment for political purposes.

Joshua Holt of Riverton, Utah with his new wife Tamara. The Holts have been charged with weapons violations that have been linked with the death of a government official in Venezuela. Undated | Photo courtesy of Justice for Josh Facebook page, St. George News
Joshua Holt of Riverton, Utah with his new wife Tamara. The Holts have been charged with weapons violations that have been linked with the death of a government official in Venezuela. Undated | Photo courtesy of Justice for Josh Facebook page, St. George News

Joshua Holt’s health is declining as he sits in a Caracas prison. Although scheduled for trial Thursday, his mother fears it could be too late, according to a Fox 13 News report this week, given his deteriorating medical condition.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, president pro tempore of the U.S. States Senate, spoke out on  video Friday, included top of this report, on his efforts to help return Joshua Holt to his family.

Laurie Holt said Friday her son has a hemorrhoid that is causing bleeding and a respiratory condition. He previously had kidney stones. She says a doctor who saw him in prison said he needs hospital care.

Joshua Holt went to Venezuela in June to marry a Mormon woman he met online. Following their honeymoon, it was the couple’s plan to return to the United States, however he was arrested and charged with possession of weapons.

Authorities contend Joshua Holt was stockpiling weapons in his wife’s Caracas apartment, The Associated Press reported.

In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah. U.S. congresswoman Mia Love said Wednesday, Aug. 31 she will call on the State Department to do more to free Josh Holt, a Utah man who's been jailed in Venezuela for two months on weapons charges. | AP File Photo/Rick Bowmer, St. George News
In this July 13, 2016 file photo, Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah. U.S. congresswoman Mia Love said Wednesday, Aug. 31 she will call on the State Department to do more to free Josh Holt, a Utah man who’s been jailed in Venezuela for two months on weapons charges. | AP File Photo/Rick Bowmer, St. George News

Holt’s family says he is innocent and the weapons were planted in his apartment, Fox 13 News reported. They believe he is being used as a political pawn.

State Department spokesman John Kirby confirmed Joshua Holt’s arrest and imprisonment in an Aug. 30 press briefing when he was asked to speak to a letter to the department on the matter from Utah Rep. Mia Love. Although he would not speak to congressional communication from the podium, Kirby said the embassy and the department are following the case closely, that the embassy had visited Joshua Holt on a regular basis and intended to continue to do so as he awaits trial.

Kevin Brosnahan, spokesman for the State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, said in a statement Thursday that the bureau has requested the Venezuelan government provide immediate medical attention for 24-year-old Joshua Holt.

Laurie Holt went on camera with a message to Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro Wednesday from their home in Riverton asking for medical help for her son. Her message was:

President Maduro, I don’t know if you have children, but if you do, imagine one of them being in a prison and not being able to get the adequate care they need when they’re sick. I am pleading as a mom to the Venezuelan government to, please, don’t just let him lay there and die.

See Fox 13 News video here.

Hatch also released a statement Wednesday:

My heart goes out to the Holt family tonight as they continue to hear reports of Josh’s serious condition and poor treatment. I’ve been in touch with the State Department and brought the duty officer in Venezuela up to speed on Josh’s situation and the need to get him immediate attention. I’ve also been in touch with the Consul General in Venezuela, and they have connected with the Director of the North American desk and asked that the Venezuelan authorities comply with the court order to get Josh the medical care he needs. I will continue to do everything in my power in working with the State Department and through diplomatic back-channels to ensure that this situation is swiftly resolved.

Love echoed Hatch’s words as well, saying:

I am continuing to push for answers and action for Josh in Venezuela. That includes doing whatever I can to ensure he gets the proper medical treatment. My heart is with Josh’s family as they endure this difficult time.

Joshua Holt  is scheduled for trial Sept. 15.

The State Department spokesman did not confirm the department’s plans to have representation at the trial in his press briefing Aug. 30, but did say it would be typical to do so.

I can tell you that certainly would be our desire,” Kirby said, “… it’s a very common practice for us to be there, to be represented there.”

“We call on the Venezuelan Government to respect due process and human rights and guarantee a fair trial,” he said.

The Associated Press and Fox 13 News contributed to this report.

St. George News Editor-in-Chief Joyce Kuzmanic contributed to this report.

In this July 30, 2016, file photo, a woman holds a photograph of Josh Holt, an American jailed in Venezuela, during a rally at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. U.S. congresswoman Mia Love said Wednesday, Aug. 31 she will call on the State Department to do more to free Holt, a Utah man who's been jailed in Venezuela for two months on weapons charges. | AP File Photo/Rick Bowmer; St. George News
In this July 30, 2016, file photo, a woman holds a photograph of Josh Holt, an American jailed in Venezuela, during a rally at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. U.S. congresswoman Mia Love said Wednesday, Aug. 31 she will call on the State Department to do more to free Holt, a Utah man who’s been jailed in Venezuela for two months on weapons charges. | AP File Photo/Rick Bowmer; St. George News

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Justice for Josh Facebook page

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Twitter: @STGnews | @NewsWayman

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

 

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9 Comments

  • 42214 September 10, 2016 at 6:28 pm

    Met a Mormon woman on line and traveled to Venezuela to marry her. Weapons planted on him by the corrupt government and his roids are killing him. Who makes this stuff up? Boy, I love the news.

    • Henry September 11, 2016 at 6:48 pm

      Could use this story to create a new episode on “Locked Up Abroad” on Nat Geo channel.

    • .... September 12, 2016 at 1:06 am

      422 I don’t think we’re getting the whole story here eh ?

      • 42214 September 12, 2016 at 8:26 pm

        Classic …. You outdid yourself!

        • 42214 September 12, 2016 at 8:37 pm

          …. I’ve had entire comments erased by the thought police and editor in chief because of inuendo and play on words. You snuck one by the panty wad police and I commend you. Roids and the “whole story” is classic. You missed one Joyce.

          • RealMcCoy September 15, 2016 at 2:16 pm

            That was pretty clever…

  • .... September 12, 2016 at 1:05 am

    Henry. That’s funny. ! LOL

  • .... September 12, 2016 at 1:09 am

    Don’t say anything about Bob because anybody home is now the St George news hall monitor. and if anybody home sees you saying something about Bob you will be sent to the principles office !

  • RealMcCoy September 15, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    I think we all missed the easiest way to get this poor man released.

    Obama has shown us that the going rate for an American hostage is $100 million per hostage.

    If America offers Venezuela a $100 million ‘donation’, I’m sure the poor guy will suddenly be cleared of all charges and returned.

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