A judge in Venezuela has ordered that a jailed US citizen must stand trial on weapons charges.
Tuesday’s ruling comes 18 months after Joshua Holt, 25, was arrested in the capital, Caracas, following his marriage to his Venezuelan girlfriend.
Mr Holt and his family reject the charges against him.
A day before the ruling, Mr Holt’s mother released an audio of her son complaining of poor health, and pleaded for his release.
“I’m very dizzy and I can’t think and my stomach hurts,” Mr Holt says in a 40-second voicemail message. “It hurts bad, and I don’t know what to do. I’ve never felt like this before.”
Mr Holt, a former Mormon missionary from Utah, travelled to Caracas in June 2016 to marry his Venezuelan girlfriend, Thamara Candelo. She is a fellow Mormon and the couple intended that Ms Candelo and her children would move with Mr Holt to the US following the marriage.
While waiting for their US visas, Mr Holt and his wife were detained in her family’s house in Caracas and accused of hiding weapons.
The US State Department has called on the Venezuelan authorities to release him.
“He’s in extremely poor health. We want him to be brought home,” spokeswoman Heather Nauert said.