The Latest: Venezuela president supports opponent's release

AP News
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Posted: Jul 08, 2017 6:12 PM
The Latest: Venezuela president supports opponent's release

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The latest on the transfer of jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez from a military prison to house arrest (all times local):

6:10 p.m.

Venezuela's president says he supports the transfer of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez from a military prison to house arrest.

President Nicolas Maduro also said Saturday evening that he wants Lopez to join him in calling for peace amid the country's three-month-old political turmoil.

Referring to Lopez by his initials, Maduro said on state television: "You know the deep differences I have with LL."

But Maduro added he hopes that now that Lopez has spent more than three years in prison, "this measure will be understood and he'll send a message in support of peace because that's what the country wants."

Maduro also reiterated his call all of Venezuela's different political forces to negotiate.

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4:40 p.m.

The Trump administration is welcoming Venezuela's release from prison of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

But the White House says more needs to be done for Lopez and other political prisoners held by the administration of socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

A White House statement says: "We welcome Leopoldo Lopez's release from prison, however his confinement under house arrest and continued denial of basic human rights is unacceptable to the United States."

The statement adds: "All Venezuelans should be able to express their political beliefs freely and the United States continues to call for the immediate release of all political prisoners held by the Maduro regime."

The White House also recalled that President Donald Trump held an Oval Office meeting in February with Lopez's wife.

The 46-year-old Lopez was transferred to house arrest Saturday after spending more than three years in a military prison. He was sentenced to nearly 14 years for inciting violence during anti-government protests in which three people died and dozens were wounded.

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2 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez says he is prepared to return to jail rather than abandon his campaign to remove President Nicolas Maduro from power.

Lawmaker and close ally Freddy Guevara read a statement from Lopez outside his home Saturday, hours after Lopez was moved from a military prison to house arrest.

In the statement Lopez said he has no intention of giving up his beliefs. He said his opposition to Maduro's government is as firm as his "convictions to fight for a real peace, coexistence, change and freedom."

In his words, he is now "a prisoner in my home, like the Venezuelan people."

The 46-year-old Lopez spent more than three years at the military prison. He was sentenced to nearly 14 years for inciting violence during anti-government protests in which three people died and dozens were wounded.

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1:40 p.m.

Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez has saluted supporters outside his home in the capital after being moved from a military prison to house arrest.

Lopez clutched a Venezuelan flag and briefly stood atop a wall outside the home where dozens had gathered to see him Saturday.

The 46-year-old opposition activist spent more than three years at the military prison on a nearly 14-year sentence for inciting violence during anti-government protests in which three people died and dozens were wounded.

Lopez's transfer has fueled hopes for a broader amnesty for dozens of jailed activists as the country slides ever deeper into political turmoil.