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Mom of Utah man jailed in Venezuela living on pins and needles awaiting his release

  • Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh while daughters Jenna, left, Katie, right, and husband Jason look on.

    Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh while daughters Jenna, left, Katie, right, and husband Jason look on.  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

  • Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah, on July 13, 2016.

    Laurie Holt holds a photograph of her son Josh Holt at her home, in Riverton, Utah, on July 13, 2016.  (Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistribu)

Laurie Moon Holt is living life on pins and needles, waiting and wondering whether she'll ever see her 24-year-old son Josh again.  

“Last night we felt strongly they were going to release him today, but now everything is up in the air,” Moon Holt told Fox News Latino.

Five days after returning to Caracas from his honeymoon, her son, the oldest of four children, was arrested along with his wife, Thamara Caleño Candelo, on weapons charges – a claim he has maintained is entirely fabricated. They were put in jail in Venezuela.

Laurie and her husband Jason have hired a team of lawyers in an effort to get them released. Josh and his parents are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS).

The Associated Press reports that Venezuelan opposition leaders say the government has released at least four of the more than 100 jailed activists they consider to be political prisoners – as of yet, Josh is not one of them.

Moon Holt says she learned that as of Tuesday, U.S. State Department Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Thomas A. Shannon, who is in Venezuela meeting with senior government officials, told Josh’s attorney he doesn’t believe the young American will be released today.

"His [Shannon] visit will underscore our support for the ongoing dialogue process, and our interest in the well-being of the Venezuelan people," the State Department said in a statement. Shannon will stay in Venezuela through Wednesday, the statement said.

Moon Holt wrote a letter to President Nicolas Maduro, one of three she’s sent so far, at the behest of her son and daughter-in-law, who told her a letter would help keep their plight in the media spotlight and put pressure on the government to release them. 

The devastated mother is hoping the letter will be published by local Venezuelan outlets.

Moon Holt’s letter talks about how Josh met his young bride, and why the two were married so quickly – something common within LDS.

“To marry so fast is very common in our religion because the family is an important part of our doctrine as we believe that families can be together forever and forever together,” Moon Holt wrote to Maduro.

Josh was scheduled for a hearing in September, and then again in October, but both times the judge failed to appear.  

His next hearing is set for Nov. 8. If the judge fails to appear again, the courts will close through the holidays and Holt and his wife will remain in prison until a hearing is rescheduled in 2017.

“That will mean three years of holidays without my son,” Moon Holt told FNL.

Josh was away on a two year mission in Everett, Washington.  

“It’s so painful to know that your child is sitting in a jail cell during the holidays. I’m not a writer. It was a tough letter to write. It brought up all the pain,” Moon Holt says.

Although Moon Holt gets daily updates about her son, the stress is taking its toll. She’s struggled with a series of mental and physical issues since her son’s arrest in June, she said.

In the letter she hopes to appeal to Maduro and paint a vivid picture of what she and her family are suffering.

“Every day I wake up with the hope of receiving a call that they’ve been freed,” Moon Holt wrote.

“I do not sleep," she said in the letter. "I'm suffering a lot because of this stress. I suffer every day knowing that this is my new reality. This is not only my physical and mental exhaustion, but also my other three children are suffering without their brother."

Rebekah Sager is a writer and editor for FoxNews.com. She can be reached at rebekah.sager@foxnews.com. Follow her on Twitter @rebekah_sager.