Arrest came as unidentified armed men threatened opposition leader Juan Guaido in the carpark to his home.
Jul 13, 2021
Venezuelan prosecutors have announced “terrorism” and “treason” charges against a prominent opposition politician after intelligence agents arrested him from his car on a Caracas highway.
In a statement on Monday, Attorney General Tarek Saab said that Freddy Guevara 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”.
Guevara, a close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaido, posted on social media from inside his car as secret police intercepted him on a Caracas highway.
“Greetings to my family, I am very sorry that you are going through this suffering, I hope it is brief,” the 35-year-old said in a live broadcast.
A spokesperson for Guaido’s office said Guevara, who was pardoned less than a year ago on 2017 charges of instigating violence, was taken to the Sebin intelligence service’s Helicoide prison in Caracas.
The attorney general did not specify where he was being held.
Separately, Guaido also said unidentified armed men threatened him with arrest earlier on Monday as he tried to leave his apartment in an effort to assist Guevara.
Videos circulated by his office showed at least two men with bulletproof vests and balaclavas in the basement of Guaido’s building approaching his car and pointing assault rifles.
One of the men opened the driver’s door and forced the driver onto the ground, yelling “Get out!,” the videos showed.
Venezuela’s information ministry did not respond to a request for comment.
Talks in Mexico
The incidents took place as the Venezuelan government and opposition prepare for negotiations planned for next month in Mexico with mediation by Norway, people familiar with the matter told the Reuters news agency last week. The talks are aimed at resolving the South American country’s deep political crisis.
President Nicolas Maduro, in an appearance on state television on Monday, confirmed the negotiation plans but said the opposition should renounce violent tactics ahead of the talks. Without naming Guevara or Guaido, he said he had proof some actors were plotting coups and said that prosecutors acted on the basis of that proof.
“I agree with the Mexico and Norway table, but there must be conditions, there must be an express renunciation of violent practices,” Maduro said.
The Venezuelan government has previously linked Guevara and his political mentor Leopoldo Lopez, who is now exiled in Spain, to violent clashes last week in a Caracas neighbourhood that left at least 26 dead.
Read More: Aljazeera – Venezuela arrests Freddy Guevara for ‘terrorism, treason’