A Utah man imprisoned in Venezuela for two years without a trial is making an emotional plea for Americans' help getting out of a Caracas jail, saying Wednesday in a clandestinely shot video that his life was threatened during a riot in the country's most-notorious prison. He said tear gas and weapons had been fired at detainees but they were holding out to demand freedom. I have NEVER done anything wrong in my life.
In another video on social media, Joshua Holt, a USA citizen and Mormon missionary whose family has said he was framed on weapons charges while in Venezuela for his wedding, pleaded to be set free.
Love said she had reached out to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the White House and the National Security Council on Holt's behalf, according to a statement from her office. The disturbance, the extent of which was not known, came as Venezuelans are on edge days before Sunday's presidential election, which Maduro is widely expected to win despite a crushing economic crisis marked by widespread shortages and hyperinflation. 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 have been held in prison ever since.
Trujillo declined to discuss how Holt was posting videos on his Facebook page, saying Holt's safety was in jeopardy and he didn't want to release any information that may harm him.
"Please my fellow Americans don't allow me to continue suffering in Venezuela", Mr Holt said in a written message, also posted on his Facebook page. "They're saying they want me as their guarantee".
Chief Prosecutor Tarek Saab tweeted, "In the face of the events that happened today in the Sebin headquarters at the Helicoide, we sent a commission of the prosecutor's office to the facility". He appeared with a bruised face in pictures on social media.
In a statement posted to Twitter, the US Embassy in Venezuela said: "We are anxious about the riot in the Helicoide".
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. That delegation spoke to a representative of the prisoners to respond to their requests.
Todd Robinson, the charg d'affaires at the US embassy, went to the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry for information, the embassy tweeted.
"Joshua Holt and other US citizens are in danger", he added.