Thursday 22 February 2018

Two Venezuelan opposition leaders arrested

Venezuela’s opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez following his release from prison on July 8. Photo: Fernando Llano. Photo: AP
Venezuela’s opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez following his release from prison on July 8. Photo: Fernando Llano. Photo: AP

Michael Weissenstein

Two of Venezuela's leading opposition figures were taken from their homes in the middle of the night by state security agents yesterday in President Nicolas Maduro's government's first moves against prominent enemies since a widely denounced vote granting the ruling party nearly unlimited powers.

The Venezuelan Supreme Court said in a statement that Leopoldo Lopez and Antonio Ledezma had violated the terms of their house arrest by criticizing the government in messages released on social media.

The court, which is controlled by Maduro allies, also said that it had received "reports from official intelligence sources" that the two men had been planning to flee.

Relatives and allies of Lopez and former Caracas Mayor Ledezma earlier reported on social media that both had been detained. Lopez's wife posted what appeared to be video of him being taken from their home after midnight.

"They've just taken Leopoldo from the house," Lilian Tintori wrote on Twitter. "We don't know where he is or where they're taking him."

Allies of Ledezma posted video of a man who appeared to be the opposition leader being taken by state security as a woman screams for help for neighbours. "They're taking Ledezma!" she cries. "It's a dictatorship!"

Lopez had been released from military prison on July 8 after serving three years of a 13-year sentence for inciting violence at opposition rallies.

Ledezma was detained in 2015 and has been under house arrest.

Irish Independent

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