Utah man freed from Venezuelan jail describes ugly ordeal

Joshua Holt is draped in an American flag by his grandmother Linda Holt upon returning to Salt Lake City, Utah, May 28, 2018. Holt, recently freed from a Venezuelan jail after two years detailed his harrowing experience Tuesday on NBC's "Today Show." | Associated Press file photo by Kim Raff, St. George News

NEW YORK (AP) — A Utah man recently freed from a Venezuelan jail after two years detailed his harrowing experience, describing how he initially was stuffed in a tiny, hot cell with cockroaches while his new wife had her fingers placed in pencil sharpeners.

Joshua Holt spoke about his ordeal Tuesday on NBC’s “Today Show.”

“At the very beginning it was horrible,” the 26-year-old Holt said. “They put me in a cell that was no bigger than what a twin bed would be. They had covered the door with a plastic bag, so I wasn’t getting very much air. It was super, super hot. So I was literally just lying on the ground just in my underwear and just sweating as cockroaches are crawling all over me. They never took me out to go to the bathroom, so if you had to use the bathroom, you either had a bottle or a newspaper.”

Meanwhile, Holt said his wife, Thamara Caleno, was in a cell with a group of other women and being threatened by Caracas police.

“They were trying to get her to go against me,” Holt said. “While they were trying to fill out paperwork to get her to sign things saying that I was a bad person — she didn’t want to do it. She knew it was all fake.

They started to put her fingers into pencil sharpeners to take off her nails (and) scare her. They tried to scare her with Tasers.”

The couple was released on May 26 after months of back-channel talks between U.S. politicians and close allies of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Holt traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry Caleno but was instead jailed on weapons charges he and his family said were bogus. His wife was arrested in the same sweep. After being welcomed home by President Donald Trump in an event at the Oval Office, the couple returned to Utah.

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  • mmsandie June 7, 2018 at 8:19 am

    It’s sad, there are 0lenty of women 8n USA to date, you always risk the chance he took in a feign country.. what amazes me ie they said he lost weight was so sick,, and yet he looks good, sometime# info changes to try and get someone out of a foreign country.
    He’s lucky to get home. But he took the chance

    • comments June 8, 2018 at 11:59 am

      I agree with you–the whole account sounds like a load of BS.

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