‘I’m fine’ says Utahn Josh Holt in new video posted from Venezuelan prison

Josh Holt appears in a Facebook video dated May 17, 2018.

VENEZUELA — Utahn Josh Holt appeared in a new video Thursday morning, saying he is OK after he pleaded for help Wednesday from the Venezuelan prison where he has been incarcerated since 2016.

On Wednesday, Holt put up two videos and two text-based posts on Facebook, in which he said the Helicoide prison where is being held had fallen to rioting and that he feared for his life.

“I’m publishing this video saying that everyone’s fine here, I’m fine, we’re doing OK. I just wanna ask and plead once again to my government, to my people, to my senators, to everyone in the United States to please not leave me alone here,” Holt said. “I love my family. I want my family to know that I’m doing OK and that no one’s doing any harm to me.”

Holt, of Riverton, was incarcerated after he traveled to Venezuela 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?”

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.”

Thursday, Senator Orrin Hatch’s Office issued an update on his efforts to free Holt.

“Senator Hatch is working directly with the administration, with U.S. personnel in Venezuela, and with his own network of contacts in South America to get a clear understanding of Josh’s current status, to confirm he is safe, and to ensure we are doing everything possible to remove him from this dangerous situation. While the ultimate goal is to get him and Thamy back to his family in the United States, our primary objective at the moment is to ensure his safety. While Josh and Thamy are not currently in immediate danger, Senator Hatch remains concerned about the evolving circumstances, is getting regular updates, and is working with leadership throughout government to explore all possible options to bring Josh and Thamy home.

Over the last two years of Josh’s tragic captivity Senator Hatch has developed a strong network of contacts in Venezuela and around South America. Rest assured that is making every possible phone call, pulling every possible lever, and leaving no stone unturned to ensure Josh is safe.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Utah Congresswoman Mia Love, who represents Utah’s 4th District, issued a statement confirming that the prison was threatened by riots and violence, but that Holt wasn’t in danger:

“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.”

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