- Title: Opposition hits back in defense of mayors and Leopoldo Lopez
- Date: 10th August 2017
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (AUGUST 10, 2017) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** VARIOUS OF OPPOSITION LEADER LEOPOLDO LOPEZ'S ATTORNEY JUAN GUTIERREZ AT NEWS CONFERENCE AUDIENCE LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) JUAN GUTIERREZ, ATTORNEY FOR OPPOSITION LEADER LEOPOLDO LOPEZ, SAYING: "Despite the fact that there was a public statement (by the government) tying him (Lopez) to or related to an alleged escape plan, there is no such thing in the file. There is no reference to an escape plan. Even referencing an escape plan undermines the operational ability of the SEBIN (Venezuelan Intelligence Agency) that has an entire police and electronic intervention operation at Leopoldo Lopez's door that makes it absolutely impossible for Mr. Lopez to leave." VARIOUS OF PEOPLE LISTENING GUTIERREZ DURING NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) JUAN GUTIERREZ, ATTORNEY FOR OPPOSITION LEADER LEOPOLDO LOPEZ, SAYING: "In order for court decision to take effect, the judges must notify the defendant. In this situation, in order to have shut down Leopoldo Lopez's expression, for Leopoldo Lopez not to talk on Twitter, not to send information, he had to have been previously notified by a judge." VARIOUS OF NEWS CONFERENCE ENDING VARIOUS OF FREDDY GUEVARA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, DURING NEWS CONFERENCE MEDIA LISTENING (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FREDDY GUEVARA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, SAYING: "Mr. Nicolas Maduro, if you believe that you will scare us by imprisoning a new brother in this fight (referring to Hatillo mayor David Smolansky), quite the contrary. What it does is embolden us because it reminds us that you will never bring peace to Venezuela." GUEVARA DURING NEWS CONFERENCE SIGN READING 'YOUTH WITH SMOLANSKY' REFERRING TO FUGITIVE OPPOSITION MAYOR GUEVARA DURING NEWS CONFERENCE (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FREDDY GUEVARA, VICE-PRESIDENT OF NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, SAYING: "There are a great number of mayors under threat who they seek to oust and imprison. What happened yesterday and what has been going on all these days is the determination and the demonstration of what Dictator Nicolas Maduro said recently: that what they couldn't get through votes, they would get through arms." VARIOUS OF NEWS CONFERENCE ENDING
- Embargoed: 24th August 2017 19:15
- Keywords: Leopoldo Lopez Freddy Guevara opposition mayors being imprisoned jailed escape plot house arrest
- Location: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- City: CARACAS, VENEZUELA
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Fundamental Rights/Civil Liberties,Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0016TKREX3
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: As tensions mount in Venezuela, opposition leaders were highlighting on Thursday (August 10) government efforts to imprison dissident leaders.
Juan Gutierrez, the attorney for hard-liner Leopoldo Lopez, accused the government of fabricating an alleged escape plot as an excuse to return Lopez to prison on August 1, 2017. Lopez, who has been imprisoned since 2014 and was sentenced to more than 13 years of prison in connection with protests, was released from jail in July because of health concerns. Just weeks later, he was taken from his house and returned to prison, allegedly because he was planning to flee. Gutierrez said there was never a plan nor was his client ever told he couldn't communicate via Twitter, another point of contention.
National Assembly Vice-President Freddy Guevara said the opposition stands firmly in support of mayors, even as the Supreme Court orders several to be arrested for defying orders to stop protests from blocking streets.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court sentenced Mayor David Smolansky of the El Hatillo district of Caracas to 15 months in prison, fired him from his post and ordered his arrest. Smolansky released a video saying he would not turn himself in.
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