VENEZUELA / Detained February 18, 2014
UPDATE: After nearly three years in prison and one hundred days of protests calling for his release, opposition leader and political prisoner, Leopoldo Lopez, was released from prison. On July 11, Venezuelan authorities released Lopez on “humanitarian grounds” for his “health situation,” according to the Venezuelan Supreme Court. Although he remains under house arrest and lacks full freedom, Lopez is now with his family and vows to renew his efforts as a leader of the democratic opposition movement.
Fellow pro-democracy supporters celebrated the news about Lopez, but have continued to rally for the release of the estimated 400 remaining political prisoners in the country. Join Lopez and other Venezuelans in speaking up for political prisoners by learning their stories at helpsetthemfree.org/Venezuela.
The allegations and charges against Lopez have been criticized by the international community, which has agreed that he is a political prisoner of conscience, and has been denied a fair trial. The Court of Appeals in Caracas has even “ignored” the lead prosecutor of the original case, Franklin Nieves, and his confession of being “pressured to falsely charge” Lopez, according to the Human Rights Foundation. Despite the support for his release, Lopez remains detained in relation to the 2014 pro-democracy protests that challenged Venezuelan President Maduro’s authoritarian regime.
Since his imprisonment began in 2014, Lopez has been denied visits from his wife, Lilian Tintori, and family, who are often humiliated with invasive visiting procedures when trying to see him. His requests for legal representation have been denied, and he’s endured inhumane prison treatment. The rigged trials, and harsh sentence are a gross violation of Lopez’s right to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association. On August 12, 2016, a Venezuelan appellate court decided to uphold Leopoldo’s 14-year sentence for charges of conspiracy, public incitement, arson and damage to public property.