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Riot erupts at Venezuela detention center where activists, Utah man jailed

17 May 2018, 06:55 | Taylor George

Top News: Utah man jailed in Venezuela pleas for freedom in video

Relatives of inmates react outside a detention center of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service, where a riot occurred according to relatives in Caracas

Josh Holt, a former Mormon missionary who's been imprisoned in Venezuela since June 2016, begged the US government for help Wednesday, saying his life was under threat as riots erupted and inmates took over the Helicoide detention center where he's being held in Caracas.

In two 20-second videos shot on a cellphone, a visibly distraught Joshua Holt suggested that his patience is running out with the USA government, which has made his release a top priority in its dealings with Venezuela's socialist government.

Chief Prosecutor Tarek William Saab sent a commission to the El Helicoide prison to speak with a representative of the inmates.

Venezuelan authorities have claimed Holt was keeping guns in the home of the woman he went to the country to marry in 2016.

The U.S. embassy in Caracassaid it was "very worried" about the situation at the Helicoide: "Joshua Holt and other U.S. citizens are in danger".

Today, I learned Josh Holt was enduring a riot situation in his Venezuelan jail. Venezuelans will be voting for a new president on Sunday.

"They're outside, they're trying to break in, they're saying they're going to kill me", Holt, a Mormon missionary from Utah, said. They are saying that they want to kill me.

Political prisoners have always been complaining about the conditions they are held in and pressure groups inside Venezuela as well as overseas have called on the government of President Nicolás Maduro to free them but so far this has had little impact. "The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for its security and we will hold it responsible if something happens to them", the USA embassy said.

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

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But people with close links to the political prisoners held there said the uprising had started after Gregory Sanabria was beaten up, allegedly by a non-political prisoner. He appeared with a bruised face in pictures on social media.

Later, socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello accused the inmates of staging the revolt to spread intrigue ahead of the election.

Tensions between the USA and Venezuela have risen as President Donald Trump's administration considers oil sanctions on the country ahead of Venezuela's presidential election Sunday.

(Photo: Facebook) Josh Holt and his wife, Thamara "Thamy" Caleno.

The disturbance, the extent of which was not immediately known, has come days before a presidential election which has Venezuelans on edge. The sebin has told me that as long as my government continues attacking this government and as long as Marco Rubio continues talking about me the longer that they will never let me go.

Responding to Holt's appeal, one Venezuelan official, Humberto Gonzalez, warned in a Tweet: "ALERT If the United States does not promptly rescue Joshua Holt he could be lynched by Maduro's regime agents on next hours".

Cabello denied Robinson had been snubbed, accusing him of staging a media show.

"We're very anxious about the mutiny in the Helicoide". "The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for their security and we will hold them responsible if anything happens to them".

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



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