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Venezuela Releases Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez to House Arrest

10 Julio 2017

But Lopez says he is prepared to return to jail rather than abandon his campaign to remove President Maduro from power. Venezuelan authorities released Lopez from a military prison and placed him under house arrest, citing concerns for his health.

The Venezuelan government has freed its fiercest political rival in a surprise move, allowing opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to return home under house arrest after almost 3-1/2 years behind bars.

The Venezuelan government announced the "humanitarian measures" were due to health reasons and "serious signs of irregularities" in the handling of the case. His release has been a key demand of Venezuela's opposition and the worldwide community, amid an intensifying political confrontation aimed at forcing the unpopular Maduro to hold early elections. The court is dominated by backers of embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Lopez, a former mayor of an area within Caracas, had previously organized protests calling for free speech protection and an end to food shortages, among other demands.

"I maintain my firm opposition to this regime", Lopez said in a statement read by a leader of his party.

One of Lopez's relatives confirmed that he has been granted house arrest.

His release has been a key demand of Venezuela's opposition and the global community, amid an intensifying political confrontation aimed at forcing the unpopular Maduro to hold early elections. Lopez was arrested in 2014 for allegedly inciting violence during the anti-government protests that year.

Lilian Tintori, Lopez's wife, has campaigned in Venezuela and overseas to try to win freedom for her husband.

Maduro, in turn, is seeking to create a new super body called a Constituent Assembly, which would have powers to rewrite the constitution and dismiss the current opposition-controlled legislature, via a July 30 vote.

"His lawyer Javier Cremades confirmed the decision in a Twitter post, saying:" Leopoldo Lopez is at his home in Caracas with (his wife) Lilian and his children.

"What's more, there are still 300 political prisoners in the Bolivarian jails", he added. But the decision to transfer the opposition leader to house arrest has raised questions among Venezuelans. LEO EMERGESAs National Assemblyman Freddy Guevara, who is also First Vice President of the National Assembly and a spokesperson for Leopoldo, was speaking, a smiling Lopez emerged on the roof of the house where he serving the remainder of his 14 year sentence to wave to the gathered crowds.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne also indicated that the release should serve, "to reinvigorate a dialogue between them that leads to a Venezuelan solution to the political impasse and economic and social difficulties facing the country".

Venezuela Releases Opposition Leader Leopoldo Lopez to House Arrest