Mia Love joins fight to bring Utah woman’s son, jailed in Venezuela, home

Posted at 6:14 PM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 20:14:22-04

SALT LAKE CITY - After weeks of fighting for the Holt family behind the scenes, Utah Congresswoman Mia Love stepped in front of CNN cameras to make a larger appeal.

"I think we need to do as much as we can to let people know that Venezuela is no place for an American," Love said. "And we need to do everything we can to get him home."

Riverton native, Josh Holt, remains locked up in a Venezuelan jail, accused of possessing two assault rifles and a grenade. His mom, Laurie Holt, said those are trumped up charges.

"He's in jail because he's American," Laurie Holt said.

It all started in late June when Josh traveled to Venezuela to meet a woman he met online six months before. The plan was for the two of them to get married and to return to the United States, with her two kids from a previous relationship.

However, shortly after the wedding, Laurie Holt said, police randomly came to their apartment building in Venezuela and started going into people's homes.  She added police removed her son from the apartment and later emerged holding a bag with two assault rifles and grenade inside it.

"There's zero chance that was his," Laurie Holt said.

She believes the police planted the weapons, and it's a thought that doesn't sound farfetched to Love.

“They are arresting people on trumped up charges," Love said. "They are arresting over 100 people today for political crimes, and have prosecuted 2,000.”

Love points out an existing animosity towards Americans after she says the U.S. Government levied several sanctions against Venezuela for human rights violations.

"We've written a letter to John Kerry demanding that he ask the Venezuelan government for a release of Josh Holt," Love said Monday.

The congresswoman said her office wrote that letter on July 22, but it took over a month to a get a reply.

"We just received a response and I don't know if that's because they knew we were about to go out to the public," Love said. "But when you cannot get the administration to protect Americans, then you have to go out to the media to do everything you can."

Josh Holt is scheduled to appear in front of a Venezuelan judge on Sept. 15 and could face two to four years for weapons possession charges.

In the meantime, Laurie Holt hopes calls to politicians in Washington D.C. won't be ignored anymore, thanks to the national platform CNN provided.

"President Obama said last year he was going to do more with cases like this," Holt claims. "I need him to step up and do that. He needs to get my son out."