Venezuelan opposition figure arrested on charges of treason and terrorism


Venezuelan opposition figure arrested on charges of treason and terrorism

Venezuelan agents have arrested a key opposition figure on charges of terrorism and treason.

Freddy Guevara was in his car when he was detained on a highway in the capital Caracas.

The left-wing government accuses him of having ties to “extremist groups” and foreign governments.

Mr Guevara is a close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who said that he was threatened by armed men as he went to help Mr Guevara.

Mr Guaidó’s wife Fabiana Rosales tweeted that hooded men with weapons entered the basement of their home and surrounded Mr Guaidó’s vehicle. He was not however detained.

Venezuela’s Attorney-General Tarek Saab said Mr Guevara would be charged with “the crimes of terrorism, attacks against the constitutional order, conspiracy to commit a crime and treason”.

The 35-year-old broadcast live on social media from the car as he was detained, apologising to his family for their “suffering”. His current whereabouts are unknown, his staff posted on Twitter.

Mr Guevara previously sought refuge in the Chilean embassy in Caracas in 2017, after the government accused him of instigating violence during opposition protests. He was pardoned on those charges less than a year ago.

The US has condemned Mr Guevara’s arrest and “threats” against Mr Guaidó. Julie Chung of the US state department demanded the release of all Venezuela’s political prisoners in a tweet.

The US, UK, EU and most Latin American governments recognise Juan Guaidó as the legitimate leader of Venezuela. He declared himself interim president in 2019 after alleging fraud in the presidential election the previous year.

But President Nicolás Maduro remains in control of the security forces and has powerful allies in China and Russia.

Reuters news agency reported last week that the government and the opposition are due to hold talks in Mexico next month over the country’s political crisis.

Venezuela has been caught in a downward spiral for years with growing political discontent further fuelled by hyperinflation, power cuts, and shortages of food and medicine.

Critics say basic services, like policing, health care and road maintenance, have been neglected.