BOGOTA – Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday that his government has extended protection to Venezuela’s ousted attorney general Luisa Ortega Diaz and the three other people who accompanied her to Colombia.
“Attorney General Luisa Ortega is under the protection of the Colombian government. If she requests asylum, we will grant it,” the president wrote on Twitter.
Ortega Diaz, husband German Ferrer, and two other people arrived in Bogota late last Friday aboard a private plane that took off from Aruba.
The president’s tweets represent Colombia’s first official comment on the situation of Ortega Diaz, who was fired Aug. 5 by Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly (ANC), a body with sweeping powers.
Opposition parties boycotted the July election for delegates to the ANC, which is made up exclusively of allies of leftist President Nicolas Maduro.
Ortega Diaz and her lawmaker husband are from Maduro’s PSUV party, but broke from the president a few months ago amid institutional conflict between the opposition-controlled congress and a Supreme Court aligned with the government.
Protests and political violence have left more than 100 people dead in Venezuela since April 1, including partisans of all stripes, police and bystanders.
As attorney general, Ortega Diaz publicly criticized the security forces for their handling of the demonstrations, while Maduro’s administration accused the nation’s top prosecutor of failing to crack down hard enough on violent opponents of the government.
Last week, the ANC ordered a search of Ortega Diaz’s home and lifted the parliamentary immunity of Ferrer, a first step toward indicting him on corruption charges he says are fabricated.
The couple left Caracas and traveled over land to the Caribbean coast, where they boarded a boat for Aruba.
Colombian media identified the two people who accompanied Ortega Diaz and Ferrer as the former attorney general’s chief of staff, Gioconda Gonzalez, and anti-corruption prosecutor Arturo Vilar Esteves.