Utah man jailed in Venezuela pleas for freedom in video


Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Joshua Holt, who has been jailed in Venezuela for two years without trial.

An American prisoner has posted videos on Facebook from inside a Venezuelan jail seized by inmates ahead of the controversial presidential election.

The 26-year-old travelled to the South American country in 2016 to marry a fellow Mormon he met online, but the couple were arrested shortly afterwards when police claimed to have found him stockpiling armaments, including an assault rifle and grenades.

Authorities of Venezuela claim that Holt was working with the US government to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, a plan they say involved him and his wife stockpiling weapons.

His first-ever video message from jail came amid what the US Government described as a riot by fellow inmates, including some of President Nicolas Maduro's top opponents who are being held alongside the American.

"The people have taken the entire prison", Mr Holt said in one of the videos.

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"I've been begging my Government for two years". They are outside. They are trying to break in.

Trujillo declined to discuss how Holt was posting videos on his Facebook page, saying Holt's safety was in jeopardy and he didn't want to release any information that may harm him.

Several of Mr Maduro's top opponents are barred from running.

The Holt family released a statement through Trujillo, saying they were both "deeply troubled and concerned" about the riots.

Inmates held at EL Helicoide, the headquarters of Venezuela's secret service, say they took over part of its cell blocks. Local and social media, as well as one witness interviewed by LAHT, report tear gas and buckshot being deployed inside “El Helicoide”.

While he did not provide details about the disturbance, or what sparked it, he said the delegates offered to coordinate with prison and judicial authorities to address the inmates' demands. "They say they're doing things, but I'm still here", Holt said.

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"We're very anxious about the mutiny in the Helicoide".

On social media, men identifying themselves as inmates said the detention centre, 'has been taken over peacefully by all the political prisoners and all the prisoners who are abducted here, who are tortured daily'.

In the second video, Holt continues by "calling on the people of America" to get him out.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

"Joshua Holt and other United States citizens are in danger".

Todd Robinson, the chargé d'affaires at the US embassy, went to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry for information, the embassy added.

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Senator Orrin Hatch has been working with the Trump Administration to bring Holt and his wife home. "The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for the security, and we will make it responsible if something happens to them".