Rep. Love says Utahn Josh Holt is safe after riots, violence threaten Venezuelan jail

VENEZUELA -- Utahn Josh Holt has taken to Facebook in a plea for help, saying the prison where he is being held has fallen and people are trying to kill him.

Rep. Mia Love later confirmed the prison was threatened by riots and violence but stated that as of Wednesday afternoon Holt is safe.

Holt, of Riverton, has been incarcerated in Venezuela since 2016 after he traveled there to marry his fiance. A few days after the wedding, he and his wife were arrested and Venezuelan authorities claimed they found assault weapons in their apartment.

Holt's family insists the couple was wrongly accused, and the US State Department has called for Holt's release.

Holt stated on Facebook Wednesday that: "Helicoide the prison where I am at has fallen the guards are here and people.are trying to break in my room and kill me. WHAT DO WE DO?"

Rep. Mia Love, a Republican representing Utah's Fourth District, issued a statement Wednesday afternoon confirming that the prison was threatened by riots and violence but that Holt is currently safe. See below for the full statement from Love.

"This afternoon, my office confirmed that the Venezuelan jail where Joshua Holt is being held was being threatened by riots and violence.  I am extremely concerned about this situation, but have been assured that Josh is safe at this time.  Immediately upon hearing what happened, I responded to his heartbreaking pleas for help with a personal phone call to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.  I am also in contact with the White House, the NSC (National Security Council), and the State Department.   It is time for the State Department to quickly produce a plan of action in order to resolve this situation once and for all.  Josh and his family have suffered far too long.  I will be closely monitoring this situation as it continues to unfold and new information becomes available, and will remain in close contact with Laurie Holt, Josh’s mom."

The US Embassy in Venezuela also tweeted a statement, which translates to:

"We're very worried about the mutiny in the Helicoide. Joshua Holt and other American citizens are in danger. The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for its security and we will hold it responsible if something happens to them."

Josh’s mother, Laurie Holt, told Fox 13 said she is deeply worried.

“This is the first time that I’ve ever felt that his life is actually at risk,” she told Fox 13 Wednesday.

She asked for prayers on behalf of her son.

“Just pray,” she said. “Just pray for his release, and that it comes soon.”

Holt also posted two videos pleading for help:

"I need help. So they've taken the entire prison where I'm at. The people have taken the entire prison. They are outside. They are trying to break in. They are saying that they want to kill me. They are saying they want me as a guarantee. I need help."

In a second video he continues:

"I need... I am calling on the people of America, I need your help to get me out of this place. I have been begging my government for two years. They say they are doing things but I am still here. And now my life is threatened. How long do I have to suffer here. How long do my kids have to go asking for their mommy and daddy. How long do I have to suffer?"

After posting both videos Holt issued this plea in a text post:

"Help me please united states, how long do I have to suffer unjustly in this place? They want to kill me and paint the walls with my blood. I am a political prisoner and they won't let me free. They won't give me a true trial. The sebin has told me that as long as my government continues attacking this government and as long as Marco Rubio continues talking about me the longer that they will never let me go. People here are dying we need help please send me help please send people to save me. Please my fellow Americans don't allow me to continue suffering in Venezuela I am not a political pawn i am a humanbeing a child of God and I just want to live happy with my wife and children. I have NEVER done anything wrong in my life. Please help me!!"

The United States government, including several members of Utah's Congressional delegation, have been involved in efforts to free Josh Holt over the years. Click here for more of our ongoing coverage of his arrest and the efforts to free him.