CARACAS – A prominent Venezuelan opposition leader who had been transferred to a military prison has now been put back under house arrest at his Caracas residence, his wife said on Friday.
Antonio Ledezma, the incumbent metropolitan mayor of the Venezuelan capital, was returned to his home by the country’s intelligence service (SEBIN) after spending several days at the Ramo Verde penitentiary, according to his wife, Mitzy Capriles.
“I’m informing the country that a few minutes ago, SEBIN surprisingly brought Antonio back to our residence. He’s returning to the home-prison,” Capriles posted on Ledezma’s official Twitter account.
She added that her husband “said upon entering the apartment that he was returning with the anguish of knowing (fellow opposition leader) Leopoldo (Lopez) and more than 600 political prisoners remain behind bars.”
SEBIN transferred Ledezma and Lopez from house arrest to Ramo Verde – outside Caracas – early on Aug. 1, two days after a Constituent Assembly election that was slammed by the opposition and much of the international community as a cynical ploy to consolidate President Nicolas Maduro’s power and sideline the opposition-controlled legislature.
The Supreme Court had said after the transfer that the two opposition leaders, both of whom had posted videos online criticizing the Constituent Assembly, were moved because they were plotting to escape.
Lopez’s family members say they do not know if the founder and leader of the Popular Will opposition party will also be returned to house arrest.
Lopez was convicted in 2015 of inciting violence during anti-government protests the year before and sentenced to nearly 14 years behind bars. He was moved to house arrest last month.
Ledezma, who has been charged with plotting to overthrow the government, was first placed under house arrest in 2015.
The 545-member Constituent Assembly, which is made up exclusively of Maduro allies and will be tasked with rewriting the nation’s constitution, will meet for the first time on Friday at the headquarters of the unicameral National Assembly.
Maduro has touted the assembly as necessary to lift Venezuela, which has been racked by months of violent opposition-led protests, out of political deadlock and a deep economic crisis.
But Venezuela’s opposition, which has been stymied in its efforts to oust Maduro via a recall referendum, says it is merely a mechanism to increase the president’s stranglehold on power.
The United States imposed sanctions against Maduro on Monday, accusing him of human rights violations and authoritarianism and freezing any assets he may have in the US.