Rally at Utah State Capitol calls for release of Riverton man imprisoned in Venezuela

Posted at 6:10 PM, Jul 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-30 23:43:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Family and friends of Josh Holt refuse to stop fighting for his life.

On a hot Saturday morning on the steps of the Utah State Capitol, more than 100 people rallied for Holt's freedom, spoke out in support of his family, and vouched for his good character.

Signs and posters reading, "Bring Josh Home" and "Justice For Josh" and "Free Josh Holt" littered the Capitol steps as people chanted those same phrases of support.

His mother, Laurie Holt, requested this rally on social media. She said this rally must get the attention of the President of the United States, current or future.

"We need to reach out to our congressmen, our governors, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump; we need their help to get him out right now," Holt said. "I need the government to step up and help us. I cannot fight this fight by myself."

Josh Holt met a Venezuelan woman on the Internet and fell in love with her. He went to Venezuela to marry her, and while waiting for her to get her paperwork to go back home with him to Riverton he was arrested and thrown in jail. Venezuelan authorities tell Holt's family he is facing multiple weapons charges and they believe he is not who he said he is.

Laurie said she feels herself starting to struggle as each day passes, but she won't give up no matter how painful it is that her son is trapped there.

This is what she said she misses most: "That I can't give him a hug every day, that I can't see him. That he doesn't come into the house with his big smirky grin."

The rally included the National Anthem followed by a prayer asking God to, "soften the hearts of the Venezuelan authorities."

Holt's grandmother spoke to the crowds, reminding them to be thankful for our country's freedom.

"I am so thankful and blessed to live in this land of the free and the home of the brave," she said.

Quynn Allsup recalled their close friendship and Holt's strong character, recalling his bravery for going on a second mission after waiting two years after his first mission.

"He is probably one of the toughest people I've ever met in my whole life," Allsup said "He really just doesn't care what the popular opinion might be, he has always done what is right for him, his family, for the people who he loves. For something like this to happen to someone like that is hard to bear, especially for someone who we all love so much and never would do anything wrong to anybody."

Loved ones have created a GoFundMe account to help raise funds for legal fees as the family works to secure Josh's freedom.