Venezuela political prisoner released to house arrest News
Venezuela political prisoner released to house arrest

[JURIST] Venezuelan political prisoner Leopoldo López [BBC profile] was released from a military prison Saturday on house arrest after the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice ordered his release [Twitter page, in Spanish] due to health concerns. López has been detained by the government since early 2014 on a 13-year sentence after being charged with inciting anti-government protests. Venezuela has been facing anti-government protests for 100 days [AP report], and the release of López has raised hopes for the opposition. He was briefly seen [NYT report] in front of his home on Saturday kissing the Venezuelan flag but making no remarks to supporters as per the conditions of his release.

Venezuela’s government has faced significant tension in its treatment of political opposition, especially López. The EU Council in May urged [JURIST report] the Venezuelan government to release political prisoners and hold elections to end the violent protests in the country. A Venezuelan appeals court in Caracas in April 2016 upheld [JURIST report] López’s sentence. In March of that same year, Venezuela’s National Assembly approved [JURIST report] an amnesty law that would free 77 individuals allegedly jailed for political reasons under a number of crimes such as the instigation of violence or commission of treason, but the President vowed to veto the law. In November 2016 UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein called for [JURIST report] the protection of political opposition leaders associated with an assassinated Venezuelan opposition leader while he was on state with López’s wife, Lilian Tintori.