Published: Thu, May 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Prison where Josh Holt is being held captive reportedly under attack

Prison where Josh Holt is being held captive reportedly under attack

Joshua Holt is pleading for Americans' help getting out of a Caracas jail.

A riot erupted on Wednesday at a detention center where dozens of government opponents of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and a Mormon missionary from Utah are detained, activists and relatives said on Wednesday. "That delegation spoke to a representative of the prisoners to respond to their requests", chief prosecutor Tarek Saab tweeted. A few days after the wedding, he and his wife were arrested and Venezuelan authorities claimed they found assault weapons in their apartment.

Holt's first-ever video message from jail came amid what the US government described as a "riot" Wednesday by fellow inmates, including some of President Nicolas Maduro's top opponents. "I can say he's probably OK right now", said his mother, Laurie Holt, on Wednesday evening.

The Trump administration has warned it could put crippling oil sanctions on Venezuela if Mr Maduro goes ahead with what the USA and others consider a sham presidential election on Sunday.

A distraught former Mormon missionary has posted videos on social media begging for urgent help after fellow inmates revolted and took control of a notorious prison in Venezuela. "They want to kill me and paint the walls with my blood".

Extra troops from the National Guard and Police are taking positions and maneuvering tactical vehicles outside the “El Helicoide” prison for political cases in Western Caracas Wednesday, as a riot is reportedly taking place inside.

In the cellphone video, Holt said he's begged the USA government for help.

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"They're outside, they're trying to break in, they're saying they're going to kill me", the 26-year-old said as shouts could be heard.

Photos on social media show the swollen face of Mr Sanabria, a student held in El Helicoide pending trial ever since he took part in mass anti-government protest in 2014.

Cabello also broke a longstanding silence from Venezuelan officials' about Holt's imprisonment to accuse the American of being a spy. They had planned to move to the US with Caleno's two young daughters, and were waiting for approval for her USA visa. Holt and Candelo were hauled off to jail.

The Trump administration has warned that it could put crippling oil sanctions on Venezuela if Maduro goes ahead with what the US and others consider a sham presidential election Sunday. Two of his main political opponents, Tintori's husband Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles, are barred from running, leaving Henri Falcon to take the role of main challenger to the Socialist leader.

A State Department official told NBC News that the department was renewing its call for Venezuela to free Holt on humanitarian grounds and that the safety of Americans overseas is one of the department's top priorities. "We're very anxious about the riot in El Helicoide". Joshua Holt and other American citizens are in danger. The embassy tweeted that Venezuela's government is responsible for the safety of prisoners and will be held accountable if something happens.

Senator Orrin Hatch has been working with the Trump Administration to bring Holt and his wife home.

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