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Trapped in a Venezuelan prison riot

17 May 2018

Holt has been in the prison for roughly two years as his family and US officials have called for his release, noting his health has taken several turns for the worse.

"Please my fellow Americans don't allow me to continue suffering in Venezuela", Holt said in a written message, also posted on his Facebook page.

Venezuela's Public Ministry has set up an ad hoc commission that will investigate a prison riot among inmates at a crowded Caracas detention center on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old traveled to Venezuela in 2016 to marry a fellow Mormon he met on the internet.

The couple were arrested at her family's apartment in Caracas after police alleged he was stockpiling weapons - an assault weapon and grenades - accusations which have been refuted by Mr Holt and his family.

Authorities of Venezuela claim that Holt was working with the USA government to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, a plan they say involved him and his wife stockpiling weapons. The only people who are kidnapping me is the government of Venezuela.

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"I need help. They have taken the entire prison where I am at", he can be heard saying in the first video. “El Helicoide” inmate Daniel Ceballos, a man who was taken as a political prisoner by Maduro in spite of being the elected mayor of the city of San Cristobal, posted a video to social media demanding the presence of government authorities, and denouncing a series of irregularities allegedly taking place inside the prison, including the murder of political prisoners. They are outside. They are trying to break in. They're saying they want to kill me.

The Holt family released a statement through Trujillo, saying they were both "deeply troubled and concerned" about the riots. He appeared with a bruised face in pictures on social media.

Rights groups and Maduro opponents have said several hundred political prisoners have been unfairly jailed.

In a statement posted to Twitter, the US Embassy in Venezuela said: "We are anxious about the riot in the Helicoide".

However, confusingly, in a video seen on Twitter late on Wednesday, the former missionary said: 'I'm here to show you that I am not being kidnapped.

Holt's trial on weapons charges had been scheduled to start Tuesday but Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, were never taken to the courthouse by their jailers.

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In the videos, Holt also called on Americans to step up to get him out, since he's been asking the government for help for years to no avail.

"They're outside", he said of the rioting inmates.

Todd Robinson, the chargé d'affaires at the U.S. embassy, went to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry for information, the embassy added but there was, 'no response from the government'.

"Joshua Holt and other U.S. citizens are in danger".

"We ask that our government and representatives act immediately to achieve their safety", it read.

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Trapped in a Venezuelan prison riot