Venezuela detains opposition leader on charges of 'terrorism,' 'treason'

·2-min read

Venezuelan opposition leader Freddy Guevara was arrested Monday by the secret police and will be charged with "terrorism" and "treason," the prosecutor's office said.

Attorney General Tarek Saab said in a statement that Guevara, a close ally of opposition head Juan Guaido, was detained by members of the Bolivarian National Intelligence Service (Sebin) due to "his links with extremist and paramilitary groups associated with the Colombian government," which together with the United States is one of the harshest critics of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

"He will be charged with the crimes of terrorism, attacks against the constitutional order, conspiracy to commit a crime and treason," said Saab.

Guevara, elected to parliament in the 2015 election that gave the opposition control of the assembly under Guaido's leadership, has been accused in the past by the Socialist government of encouraging violence in protests that called for Maduro's departure. Some 125 were killed in the subsequent clashes that took place between April and July 2017.

After the prosecutor's office authorized charges against him, he took refuge in the Chilean embassy until Maduro pardoned him, and he was released last September.

The 35-year-old former student leader posted on social media from inside his car as he was being intercepted by the intelligence agents on a Caracas highway.

"Greetings to my family, I am very sorry that you are going through this suffering, I hope it is brief," Guevara said in a live broadcast.

The government has linked Guevara and his political mentor Leopoldo Lopez, who is now exiled in Spain, to violent clashes last week in a Caracas neighborhood that left at least 26 dead.

"They want to disguise themselves as democrats," but "they ally themselves with criminals," Maduro said without directly mentioning Guevara's case.

"Some of these sectors... we have pardoned them from previous causes, but they are pardoned... and they immediately join in looking for criminals, paying for violent groups and preparing assassinations," he said.