Hatch, Love join fight to free Utah man incarcerated in Venezuela

SALT LAKE CITY — Two prominent Utah politicians have joined the fight to free a local man from a Venezuelan jail.

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch invited Laurie Holt, the mother of 24-year-old Josh Holt, a Riverton native, to the Federal Building in downtown Salt Lake City Thursday.  Hatch wanted to let Laurie and her husband Jason know that he will fight to bring their son home.

“With all of us working together, hopefully, we’ll solve this problem sooner than later,” Senator Hatch said Thursday morning.

He said both he and Congresswoman Mia Love are joining forces in an effort to free Josh Holt.

“I wanted to make sure I was partnering with the Senator because he has a network of people that I don’t,” said Congresswoman Love, who announced her efforts to help the Holts on national television earlier this week.

For the past two months, the Holt family has been asking for help to free Josh, who was arrested by Venezuelan authorities back in June.  Holt had traveled there to marry a woman he met online six months earlier.  The hope was to bring both his wife and her two kids back to the United States.  However, shortly after the wedding, the Holts said Venezuelan police randomly entered Josh's apartment and arrested him on weapons charges.  They claimed to have found two assault rifles and a grenade in Josh's belongings - a claim that Laurie and Jason Holt said is false.

Senator Hatch's office offered more positive news to the Holts Thursday by sharing news that former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson will be traveling to Venezuela next week to reach out to local officials.

“He’s someone that can make a difference down there,” Jason Holt said.

The Holts hope that Richardson's connections can help improve relations between the U.S. and Venezuela and set up a return for Holt.

"This is really good because it will pick me back up," a tearful Laurie Holt said of her meeting with Hatch and Love.