Riverton mom says son wrongly imprisoned in Venezuela faces life-threatening medical issues

Posted at 9:16 PM, Sep 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-07 23:17:14-04

RIVERTON, Utah -- A Riverton mom says her son is about to bleed to death in a Venezuelan jail.

"I am pleading as a mom to the Venezuelan government to, please, don't just let him lay there and die,” Laurie Holt said.

Laurie and Jason Holt, surrounded by family and friends outside their Riverton home, delivered a message to the Venezuelan president Wednesday.

"President Maduro, I don't know if you have children, but if you do, imagine one of them being in a prison and not being able to get the adequate care they need when they're sick," Holt said.

Her son, 24-year-old Josh Holt, has been in jail since his arrest on June 30. His parents say his health has gotten worse and worse and that he is suffering from kidney stones, phenomena, bronchitis, and, now, internal bleeding.

"The jail is not going to take him to a hospital even though it has been recommended by a physician at least three to four times," Holt said.

Holt traveled to Venezuela in June to marry a woman that he met online. They were planning to return to the U.S. following the honeymoon, but were arrested and charged with possession of weapons. Holt's family says he is innocent and that the weapons were planted in his apartment. They believe he is being used as a political pawn.

"Please don't let this stupid political thing that is going on right now cost my son his life," Holt said.

Josh Holt is scheduled to appear before a judge on September 15, where he could be released on his own recognizance. However, his mom fears it may be too late.

"I'm still here and I'm still fighting for him and I'm not going to stop," Holt said.

Throughout the last few months, Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and Utah Representative Mia Love have reached out to the Venezuelan government. According to Hatch's office, there is a court mandate in effect from the Consulate General in Venezuela to get Josh Holt the medical attention he needs.

Hatch's office released this statement Wednesday:

"My heart goes out to the Holt family tonight as they continue to hear reports of Josh's serious condition and poor treatment. I've been in touch with the State Department and brought the duty officer in Venezuela up to speed on Josh's situation and the need to get him immediate attention. I've also been in touch with the Consul General in Venezuela, and they have connected with the Director of the North American desk and asked that the Venezuelan authorities comply with the court order to get Josh the medical care he needs. I will continue to do everything in my power in working with the State Department and through diplomatic back-channels to ensure that this situation is swiftly resolved."

Rep. Mia Love issued this statement:

“I am continuing to push for answers and action for Josh in Venezuela. That includes doing whatever I can to ensure he gets the proper medical treatment. My heart is with Josh’s family as they endure this difficult time.”