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Sugar House Journal

U.S. leaders step in to help Josh Holt

Oct 31, 2016 14h56 ● By Natalie Mollinet

Josh Holt and his wife on their wedding day (Mindy Jones/Holt’s Aunt)

By Natalie Mollinet| [email protected]

Sugar House, Utah - A few months ago we introduced you to Josh Holt, a man from Riverton who’s been in prison in Venezuela under false pretenses. On October 11, Holt was supposed to have a second hearing in court, unfortunately, the judge missed the hearing. This is the second time the judge has failed to show up. 

Holt’s family here in Sugar House and around the valley have been looking for help from officials in the United States government, and after hearing of their struggles Utah Senator Orrin Hatch has stepped into help. Hatch has recruited the help of Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State John Kerry. 

“I’ve been working closely together with Vice President Biden and Secretary Kerry to ensure that Josh’s case is brought to a swift resolution,” Hatch said in a YouTube video press release just days before the second failed hearing. “And while I haven’t been able to share much publicly of what’s going on behind the scenes, recent developments have given me reasons to feel optimistic.”

Holt went down to Venezuela after meeting his soon-to-be-wife online. They two met in the Dominican Republic and fell in love. After proposing, Holt flew back to the United States to get his visa, then flew to Venezuela where he married his wife. Shortly after they were married, police barged into their home believing Holt was an American spy. 

“We believe they planted guns and grenades that they so called ‘found’ in the apartment,” Mindy Jones, his aunt, said. “His bail was set at $100,000 in cash.” 

Since June, Holt has been in a Venezuelan prison where his family says is health is deteriorating. 

“It breaks my heart to see Josh Holt held as a political prisoner and denied a hearing for so long,” Utah Representative Mia Love said in a press release. The House recently passed a resolution called H. Res 851 that could help Holt in his current situation. According to the press release the resolution, “…Expresses profound concern about the political, economic and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela.” The resolution also calls for the release of political prisoners, which includes Holt. 

According to Jones, the biggest upset for the family right now is this missed trial. Holt still hasn’t had contact with his mother and vice versa. Holt’s family in the U.S. only has contact with the lawyers that are trying to help Josh. The family though is happy that the U.S. government has heard their plea for help. 

“It’s great having their support and letting others know to not go into that country,” Jones said. “But Josh is still in prison.” 

Jones didn’t have details about the treatment of Holt while in prison but according to different sources it is not fair and very demeaning, and with Holt’s health deteriorating, the family and U.S. government are  trying to push the process. As of now there isn’t another court date set, but the family first has to pray and hope that the judge decides to show up. 

“Help spread the word,” Jones said regarding how the community can help. 

“I believe we will see justice for Josh,” Hatch said, “and I believe we will see it soon.”