Inmates revolt at Venezuela detention center, Utah man pleads for help

People shout “Freedom for prisoners” outside the political police headquarters and jail on Thursday.—AP

"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.

His trial on weapons charges was scheduled to start on Tuesday but Mr Holt and his wife, Thamara Caleno, were not taken to the court house by their jailers at El Helicoide, headquarters to Venezuela's feared Sebin intelligence police.

"I need help. They have taken the entire prison where I am at", he can be heard saying in the first video.

They say they did so after a political prisoner was beaten. "They're saying they want me as their guarantee".

"I'm calling on the people of America". I need your help to get me out of this place.

"I've been begging my Government for two years". And now my life is threatened. "Josh and his family have suffered far too long", the statement said. How long do my kids have to go asking for their mommy and daddy.

"I'm here to show you that I am not being kidnapped", Holt says in the video, which he didn't post to his Facebook account. "The Venezuelan government is directly responsible for the security, and we will make it responsible if something happens to them".

Reuters was unable to independently confirm the origin of the videos or circumstances under which they were made.

Holt, of Riverton, has been incarcerated in Venezuela since 2016 after he traveled there to marry his fiance. Shortly afterward, the couple was arrested at her household's condominium after police alleged he was stockpiling weapons.

Joshua Holt, a U.S. citizen held at the jail for two years pending trial, pleaded for help in a video message sent as the uprising was apparently going on.

Venezuela's Information Ministry did not respond to a request for comment, but its chief prosecutor said in a tweet that his office was on site, without providing details.

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

The riot was sparked after a young activist from the mountainous state of Tachira, Gregory Sanabria, was beaten by other prisoners, according to Patricia Gutierrez, wife of detained opposition leader Daniel Ceballos.

In videos posted on social media, Venezuelan activists, including a man identified as Sanabria whose face was bruised, pleaded for help.

Relatives of inmates react angrily outside the detention centre where a riot occurred.

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.

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

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".

'Joshua Holt and other USA citizens are in danger.

"The Government of Venezuela is directly responsible for their safety and will be held responsible if anything happens to them".

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.

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