US Mom Warns Son Is Suicidal After Year in Venezuelan Prison

Lawyers say Joshua Holt, new wife were framed by Venezuelan government
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2017 4:50 PM CDT
US Man Marks 1 Year in Venezuelan Prison
Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Joshua Holt, who has been jailed in Venezuela for a year.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer, File)

A year ago Friday, Utah man Joshua Holt and his new bride were arrested in their apartment in Caracas and imprisoned without charges or a hearing, NBC News reports. They're still waiting for either on what Sen. Orrin Hatch tells the Wall Street Journal is a "devastating anniversary." Holt met his wife Thamara online and traveled to Venezuela to propose to her last June. They were married June 16 and arrested two weeks later while waiting for Thamara to be granted a visa so they could move to the US. Venezuelan officials say Holt had two guns, ammunition, and a grenade in the apartment; they accuse him of working with the US government and gangs to undermine the Venezuelan president, CBS News reports. Holt and witnesses claim police planted the guns after learning the newlyweds couldn't pay a $10,000 bribe.

For the past year, Laurie Holt has been working to free her son, who she says was imprisoned "for simply falling in love," and now she's urging President Trump to "push harder" to bring Joshua home. "For a mother, you can't even explain how much it hurts," Holt says. She says her son has lost 60 pounds in prison while suffering from pneumonia, bronchitis, and a blood infection. She says he's given up hope and is suicidal, describing the prison in letters as a place where "demons stroll the hallways." Joshua Holt's lawyer says he's been abused in prison, forced to remove his Mormon undergarments and jump up and down naked. Hatch says he's met with officials "from every level of government" to free Holt, but Venezuela may be holding on to Holt as a future bargaining chip. (More Venezuela stories.)

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