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While discussing new Venezuela sanctions in a conference call Wednesday, President Donald Trump called for the release of Utah native Josh Holt, who has been held in a Venezuelan prison for more than a year.

Venezuelan officials accused Holt of possessing illegal weapons, but his mother and others say he is innocent and has been targeted by a corrupt judicial system.

Trump said the United States is "very concerned about the situation of Joshua Holt, a young American being detained illegally by the [President Nicolas] Maduro regime for over a year now," according to notes from the White House conference call with senior administrative officials. "We once again call for his immediate release on humanitarian grounds."

Holt, a 25-year-old Riverton native, went to Venezuela to marry Thamara Caleno, whom he'd met online while trying to find someone with whom he could practice speaking Spanish.

The couple had planned to return to Salt Lake City when Caleno obtained a visa, but they were arrested June 30, 2016, after returning from their honeymoon. Venezuelan officials accused Holt of stockpiling guns and grenades in Caleno's apartment.

Holt's mother, Laurie Holt, has since reported inhumane prison conditions and adamantly advocated for his release while coordinating with Utah politicians and federal officials.

Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch thanked Trump, calling him an "ally" in the fight to bring Holt home.

"Over the last few months, I've had the opportunity to discuss Josh's case with the president, his Cabinet and several members of the Holt family," Hatch said in a written statement. "I'm deeply grateful for their commitment to justice and their willingness to help an innocent Utahn and his wife return home."

The White House call focused on the United States' commitment to impose new sanctions if Maduro follows through on plans to rewrite the country's constitution July 30.

Last week, 7.1 million Venezuelans worldwide — including more than 3,000 in Utah — voted in a referendum opposing Maduro's plan.

"The United States will not stand by as democracy is eroded in Venezuela," Trump said.

Twitter: @mnoblenews