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Utahn in Venezuelan prison sends family audio message, complains of serious illness

RIVERTON, Utah – Laurie Holt has spent nearly 18 month agonizing about the safety of her son Josh.  He’s been locked in a Venezuelan prison on charges she believes are a sham.

“The judge could even see that it was complete bogus,” Holt said.  “She kept telling the prosecution, you keep contradicting yourself.  So I know my son is innocent.”

Monday night, an audio recording was released of Josh’s voice.  On it, Josh’s voice sounds weak and beleaguered.

“I’m very dizzy and I can’t think and my stomach hurts, very bad,” the voice on the recording says.  “I don’t know what to do.”

Laurie believes the recording proves her son is gravely ill and needs medical attention.

“This was the first time that it’s a cry for help because he’s in pain.  He’s suffering.  It scares me.  I am afraid for his life right now,” Holt said.

She thinks Venezuelan authorities are not doing anything to help Josh recover.

“They don’t give him medications.  The doctors will come in and say he needs this and this and this and then they don’t give it to him,” Holt said.

She says he is battling a number of health issues.

“He still has the problem with the tooth.  It’s some kind of a fake filling.  He feels like he has a foreign object.  He has a bubble underneath the tooth and the gum – a white bubble, so we know it’s an abscess,” she said.

Utah republican Congresswoman Mia Love says the United States government is working to secure Josh’s release, but working with an adversarial government is difficult.

“The relationship between Venezuela and the United States is not good.  Venezuela is a horrible place to be, they treat their own people poorly,” Love said.  “Imagine how they are treating Americans.”

So while work continues to bring Josh back to Utah, Laurie Holt continues her heart wrenching and long wait while her son is locked up a world away.

“They don’t care.  They just don’t care.  The prison guards, the person in charge of the prison, they do not care.  Otherwise, why would their people be starving, dying?  It’s just the most corrupt thing I have seen in my entire life,” Holt said. “People here in the United States don’t understand how lucky they are.”