Imprisoned former Venezuelan opposition deputy released after talks begin

Guevara, who had been detained for just over a month, was accused by the prosecutor's office of links to paramilitaries

AFP PHOTO/PRESIDENCIA DE VENEZUELA  -   Nicolas Maduro (Centre), his wife Cilia Flores (Third from right) and Venezuela's Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino (Third from left)

Venezuelan authorities on Sunday released former opposition deputy Freddy Guevara, a close associate of leader Juan Guaidó, two days after a negotiation process between the opposition and the government began in Mexico.

Guevara, who had been detained for just over a month and was accused by the prosecutor's office of links to paramilitaries, said after his release that he was unaware of the "conditions" of his freedom.

"I am not clear about what the measures are (...) I am not clear about what the limitations are," he said as he left the headquarters of the Bolivarian Intelligence Service (Sebin) in Caracas.

He also said that he has not spoken to his party colleagues and that he does not know "what his release corresponds to".

PHOTO/JUAN GUAIDO PHOTO SERVICE - Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó

"I have zero political information, I have not been able to talk to any of them, I am going to talk to see what information I can get today. What I do know is that my freedom is conditional (...) I also know that as long as there is no political solution here in Venezuela, my freedom is also conditional, and the freedom of all Venezuelans", he added.

Guevara was arrested on 12 July and accused by the prosecutor's office of being "linked to extremist and paramilitary groups associated with the Colombian government".

The crimes he was charged with are terrorism and "treason".

The prosecution's accusation came after the executive vice president, Delcy Rodríguez, mentioned him when presenting a report she gave together with the interior minister, Carmen Meléndez, on the shootings in western Caracas at the beginning of July.

Last Friday, a new round of negotiations began in Mexico between the opposition sector led by Guaidó and the government of Nicolás Maduro, a process that began with the signing of a "memorandum of understanding" between the parties.

REUTERS/MANAURE QUINTERO - Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro during a news conference December 8, 2020

The meetings took place over the weekend in an airtight manner and the final results of these first meetings were not known.

With this process, promoted by Norway, the opposition is demanding "free, transparent and fair" elections, while Maduro wants international sanctions to be lifted.

None of the parties involved in the negotiation process has yet made a statement on the release of Guevara.