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US State Department calls on Venezuela to release Josh Holt on anniversary of arrest

RIVERTON, Utah — Friday marks one year since Utahn Josh Holt and his wife were arrested in Venezuela, and this week the US State Department issued a video calling for his release on humanitarian grounds.

file: Josh Holt

Holt is from Riverton, and last year he traveled to Venezuela to marry his fiance. The pair was arrested just days after the wedding, with Venezuelan police claiming they found two assault rifles and a grenade in the couple’s home.

Thursday, State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert delivered a video statement regarding Holt’s detainment and calling for his release. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch also called for Holt’s release this week. 

Nauert says “protracted delays” in the filing of formal charges or in even providing a preliminary hearing “casts serious doubts on the merit of and the lawfulness of his detention.”

She goes on to say Holt’s confinement is more difficult due to ongoing medical ailments, and she says “dozens of diplomatic notes and public statements” have raised concerns about Holt’s health and the conditions of his detention. Nauert says Holt’s case has been raised at the highest levels of the Venezuelan government by numerous U.S. officials.

Nauert said with Friday marking a year of detainment for Holt: “We again call on the government of Venezuela to immediately release him on humanitarian grounds so that he can return to the United States.”​

The full text of the statement from Nauert is below:

“[Friday] is an important day. It will mark one year since U.S. Citizen Josh Holt was detained by Venezuelan authorities. Medical and consular access to Mr. Holt has continued to be slow and grudging. Since February, we’ve made multiple calls for the Venezuelan government to release him on humanitarian grounds.

The protracted delays in providing him even a preliminary hearing and filing formal charges casts serious doubts on the merit of and the lawfulness of his detention. His detention has been made all the more difficult and painful due to ongoing medical ailments, which have worsened by delays and denials of proper care.

Through private discussions, dozens of diplomatic notes, and public statements: we’ve repeatedly raised concerns about his health and the conditions of his detention and his treatment with Venezuelan authorities. His case has been raised at the highest levels of the Venezuelan government by numerous U.S. officials.

With the anniversary of his detention [Friday], we again call on the government of Venezuela to immediately release him on humanitarian grounds so that he can return to the United States.”