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Venezuela state prosecutor urges conditional release of couple

The Venezuelan state prosecutor’s office on Friday, July 14, called for the conditional release of a Utah man and his Venezuelan wife, citing multiple delays in a trial over alleged weapons charges.

Both are being detained at Venezuela’s intelligence service.

The statement from the Public Ministry says that Jason Holt and Thamara Caleño should be free while waiting trial, although still prohibited from leaving the country.

Holt, a Mormon missionary, traveled to Venezuela in June 2016 to marry Cañelo, a Mormon woman he met online. Soon after, police arrested the newlyweds during a raid at her family’s apartment, accusing them of hiding weapons.

Venezuelan authorities accused Holt of having links to what Maduro calls U.S. efforts to oust him from power. But no preliminary hearing has been set to review such evidence.

The Public Ministry also said authorities should approve health evaluations for the couple. Holt’s mother says her son has lost 60 pounds and has suffered from many ailments.

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert issued a statement in June, calling again for the release of Holt.

“The protracted delays in providing him even a preliminary hearing and filing formal charges casts serious doubts on the merit of and the lawfulness of his detention. His detention has been made all the more difficult and painful due to ongoing medical ailments, which have worsened by delays and denials of proper care.”

U.S. State Department Spokesperson Heather Nauert

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