- Title: Venezuela releases political prisoner Rosmit Mantilla
- Date: 18th November 2016
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (NOVEMBER 18, 2016) (REUTERS) WIDE OF CLINIC WHERE FREED PRISONER ROSMIT MANTILLA WAS BEING TREATED SIGN READING "UROLOGY" ON SIDE OF BUILDING FREED PRISONER ROSMIT MANTILLA WALKING TO MICROPHONE PHOTOJOURNALISTS OUTSIDE OF CLINIC VARIOUS OF MANTILLA WALKING (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ROSMIT MANTILLA, FREED POLITICAL PRISONER, SAYING: "I want to thank Venezuela, the Catholic church, and my brothers who fought for my liberty. I remain hopeful my comrades still behind bars will be freed soon. The duty of the people of Venezuela is to work for the Venezuela of the future, the Venezuela of change, for the Venezuela of political prisoners, not just for those of us who are behind bars, but also for those who are waiting in long lines for food, those outside who are living without medication." REPORTERS SURROUNDING MANTILLA (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ROSMIT MANTILLA, PRESO POLITICO LIBERADO SAYING: "There were hard times but the biggest lesson was sharing ideas with marvelous young people, I shared with young political activists, I shared with young student activists, activists from the streets and we all agreed on the same. The goal was Venezuela, independent of how we thought of it, that was the only objective." OPPOSITION LAWMAKER SPEAKING TO PRESS (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) OPPOSITION LAWMAKER FREDDY GUEVARA SAYING: "We welcome positively this gesture. We hope that this can solidify more liberations, not just as gestures to the parties, but for the affiliated with the political prisoners for the state of Venezuela, and that this process that has advanced with some partners of national unity and with the national government, with the auspices and pressure from the Vatican, and from all the rest of the mediators who can advance more releases of political prisoners with more gestures for the Venezuelan people and above all else, to resolve the fundamental problem that we're being denied: the right to choose our own democracy." VARIOUS OF JOURNALISTS AND PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE CLINIC WHERE ROSMIT MANTILLA WAS BEING TREATED
- Embargoed: 3rd December 2016 19:10
- Keywords: Politics prisoner release Venezuela
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Crime/Law/Justice
- Reuters ID: LVA00158Z42F7
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Venezuela has freed a politician accused of fomenting violent protests in 2014, but opposition leaders said on Friday it was not enough and demanded President Nicolas Maduro's government release all 100 or so jailed opponents.
The liberation of Rosmit Mantilla, a well-known activist for the hardline Popular Will party, came amid Vatican-brokered talks between the socialist government and the opposition that are focusing on prisoners among other issues.
"I remain hopeful my comrades still behind bars will be freed soon," Mantilla, 33, told reporters after being released and going straight to hospital for gall bladder surgery.
Mantilla, who was studying journalism alongside his political activism, was arrested at his grandparents' apartment in May 2014, accused of helping finance anti-Maduro protests that led to violence and 43 deaths that year.
During months of riots, the fatalities included both opposition and government supporters, and security personnel.
Supporters say authorities framed Mantilla by placing envelopes with money in the apartment. From prison, Mantilla won election as a substitute legislator in a vote last year when the opposition took control of Venezuela's National Assembly.
Maduro, the 53-year-old successor to Hugo Chavez whose popularity has dived during an unprecedented economic crisis, accuses foes of seeking a coup against him and denies the existence of political prisoners.
Officials often recall a short-lived 2002 coup against Chavez, and display arms, explosive materials, cash and messages as evidence of the crimes of radical activists.
Amnesty International welcomed Mantilla's release, saying he was victimized for rights work.
That was echoed by opposition leaders, who call Maduro a dictator. "We welcome positively this gesture... to resolve the fundamental problem that we're being denied: the right to choose our own democracy," said opposition lawmaker Freddy Guevara.
Local rights group Penal Forum says that after Mantilla's release, Venezuela still holds 108 political prisoners, and is using them as chips in the Vatican-mediated negotiations.
The opposition coalition puts the number higher at 135.
Three activists were released in an early gesture soon after talks began last month.
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