Utah mother given false hope that her son would be released from Venezuelan jail

Posted at 8:46 PM, Nov 01, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-01 22:46:44-04

SALT LAKE CITY - In a span of just a couple hours, Laurie Holt ran the gamut of human emotion: excitement, heartbreak, confusion.

"My older son came in and said it looks like Josh is getting set free, and we were like, 'what!'" said Laurie Holt, the mother of a 24-year-old Utah man trapped in a Venezuelan jail.

Laurie Holt's son had seen a series of tweets from reporters in Venezuela that claimed Josh Holt was set to be released Tuesday.

Josh Holt went to Venezuela in June to marry a woman he met online six months before. The two had met on an online LDS dating website and quickly fell in love. The hope was for the couple to get married and then to bring his new bride and her two daughters back to the U.S.

However, after the wedding, Venezuelan police entered the couple's apartment unannounced and arrested the pair, after allegedly finding two assault rifles and grenade.

"There's no way," Josh Holt's mom said of the accusations.

Laurie Holt believes her son is being used as a political pawn for the Venezuelan government, a government currently battling millions of protesters within its own borders.

Over the past four months, a number of state politicians, as well as leaders in Washington D.C. haven't gotten involve in the effort to free Josh Holt.

Monday, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon met with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. Laurie Holt heard from Shannon's team that he asked Maduro to let Josh Holt go free.

“He actually said that, 'Let me take Josh home,'” Laurie Holt said of Shannon's discussion with Maduro.

But despite the conversation and the tweets from Venezuelan reporters in-country, as of Tuesday night, Josh Holt remained locked up.

"Very frustrating," Laurie Holt said. "We get our hopes up every time."

Josh Holt is scheduled for a court appearance on Nov. 8, where a judge could either release him or sentence him for up to two years on weapons charges.

However, the judge never showed up for the last two court appearances.  If that happens again, Laurie Holt said her son likely won't be released until next year.