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Venezuela Should Release Ledezma, Other Opposition Leaders
In response to the Venezuelan government’s detention of the mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, on February 19, Freedom House issued the following statement:
“The arbitrary detention of Antonio Ledezma by intelligence officials, who acted without a legal order for his arrest or evidence of any wrongdoing, constitutes a clear violation of Ledezma’s constitutional rights,” said Robert Herman, vice president for international programs. “He has become the latest victim of the national government’s witch hunt, his arrest marking an alarming escalation of its persecution of opposition leaders. He should be released immediately, along with Daniel Ceballos, Leopoldo Lopez, and the dozens of others imprisoned under spurious and politically motivated allegations.”
President Nicolas Maduro and other government leaders claim that Ledezma was arrested because of alleged involvement in plotting a coup against the government, allegations voiced by government officials since January 2014 but not substantiated. His arrest comes one day after the one-year anniversary of the imprisonment of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez. Dozens of domestic and international groups have called for the release of Lopez, including the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and the UN Committee against Torture.
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.