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Top US officials working to release Utah man from Venezuelan prison

Top US officials working to release Utah man from Venezuelan prison

(Holt Family Photo)



Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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SALT LAKE CITY — U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro earlier this week regarding the imprisonment of Josh Holt, as efforts from politicians have increased in getting the Utah resident released from a Venezuelan jail, said Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.

Hatch’s office released a statement late Wednesday night announcing that Hatch had received a call from Vice President Joe Biden about the latest updates from Kerry’s efforts to help free Holt.

“Vice President Biden reassured Hatch that he personally would continue to do everything in his power to get Holt home as soon as possible,” Hatch’s office said in the statement.

Hatch’s office added that Hatch “felt reassured” by Biden and Kerry’s efforts in helping bring Holt home.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed House Resolution 851 — co-sponsored by Rep. Mia Love, R-Utah, which, among other aspects regarding Venezuela, called for the release of political prisoners in the country, including Holt.

“It breaks my heart to see Josh Holt held as a political prisoner and denied a fair hearing for so long,” Love said in a statement. “This resolution tells all those who are suffering that we stand in solidarity with them.”

Holt, from Riverton, was being held in a Caracas, Venezuela, jail since June 30 after authorities said he was stockpiling weapons in his wife’s apartment in Caracas. Holt had flown to the country on June 11 and married his fiancee, Theresa Caleno, who is from there, on June 16. The two met online.

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Earlier this month, Holt’s family made a plea to the Venezuelan government to give Holt adequate medical care after Holt’s mother said he was suffering from internal bleeding and pneumonia-like symptoms. His family also reported he had suffered other medical conditions since his jail stay began.

A hearing was slated for Sept. 15, where a judge could have released Holt, but the judge did not appear for the hearing, Hatch said in a video on Sept. 16. Hatch added that he began reaching out to both Kerry and Biden that same week.

“We will see justice for Josh in the end,” Hatch said.

Carter Williams

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