A Mormon Missionary Held in a Venezuelan Prison Has Come Home

Utah Senator Orrin Hatch worked for 2 years to make this happen.

A screengrab from Josh Holt's Facebook page.Facebook

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President Donald Trump announced Saturday morning on Twitter that Josh Holt, a Utah missionary who has been held in a Venezuelan prison since 2016, was headed back to the US. That night he and his wife arrived and were welcomed at the White House by President Trump.  

Holt, 26, traveled to Venezuela in 2016 to marry a woman he met online. A short time later, he was arrested and accused by the Venezuelan government of stockpiling weapons in the apartment of his new wife’s family and collaborating with an armed paramilitary gang. The gang, known as “Los Sindicalistas,” has been accused of drug trafficking, contract killings, robberies, and the assassination of Omar Jesús Marín, a member of Venezuela’s ruling party, according to the Washington Post.

He’s been held in the El Heliocide prison ever since, and in recent days had posted messages to his Facebook account saying his life was in danger because there was rioting there. On May 16, he posted this message:

The same day, he also posted a video saying “I’ve been begging my government for two years. They say they’re doing things but I’m still here. And now my life is threatened.” 

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) issued a statement Saturday saying he’s been working behind-the-scenes for all that time with presidents Obama and Trump to persuade the government of Venezuela to make the release possible.

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REAL QUICK, REAL URGENT

Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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