Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela opposition leader Lopez in 'proof of life' video

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Media captionLeopoldo Lopez's "proof of life" video

Following rumours that jailed Venezuelan opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez had been poisoned and taken to hospital, a government lawmaker showed a "proof of life" video of him in his cell.

In the video, Mr Lopez says he is well and that he does not know why he is being asked for "a proof of life".

Mr Lopez is three years into a 14-year sentence for inciting violence during anti-government protests in 2014.

He is held in a jail near Caracas.

Where is Leopoldo Lopez?

Rumours started spreading on social media on Wednesday that Mr Lopez had been moved from Ramo Verde prison to a military hospital.

Many based their information on a tweet by Venezuelan journalist Leopoldo Castillo, who had written: "Information, transfer of Leopoldo Lopez from Ramo Verde to the Military Hospital, without vital signs."

He also wrote that the Venezuelan government's "hypothesis" was that he had been poisoned.

Many readers at first queried whether Mr Castillo's Twitter account may have been hacked, but an hour later, Mr Castillo posted another tweet saying he had not been hacked.

US Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who has called for Mr Lopez's release, also took to Twitter.

Image copyright Twitter/@marcorubio

Mr Lopez's wife, Lilian Tintori, went to the military hospital where Mr Lopez had allegedly been taken to and stood at the gates demanding to be allowed to see him.

"Please, can you inform us if anyone brought Leopoldo here? Did he enter or not?," she could be heard asking the guards on videos distributed on social media.

She also said that she had no been allowed to see her husband for more than a month.

'Alive and kicking'

Shortly after that, influential government lawmaker Diosdado Cabello broadcast on his TV show Con el Mazo Dando a video of Mr Lopez.

The video shows Mr Lopez standing in a white room in front of bars with his arms crossed.

"They tell me this is a proof of life message for my family. Today is the 3 of May, it's nine o'clock at night. A message for Lilian: I don't understand the reason why I'm being asked for proof of life at this moment."

At that point there is an edit in the video.

It then continues: "I send a message to my family and my children that I'm well."

Mr Cabello also tweeted a link to the video on Twitter with the message: "They wanted proof of life? Here is the proof that Leopoldo Lopez is alive and kicking."

US Senator Marco Rubio responded to the video by posting a tweet demanding that Lilian Tintori be allowed to see her husband.

Image copyright Twitter/@marcorubio

Lilian Tintori also remained firm in her demand to see her husband.

"I've seen the video, but it's been edited," she said.

"I can't say anything for certain until I've seen Leopoldo and he has told me what's going on, not just in a video edited by Diosdado Cabello, whom I don't believe anything."

"I won't be reassured until I've see him in person."

The rumours about Mr Lopez's health came as Venezuela is experiencing another wave of anti-government protests similar to those over which Mr Lopez was jailed.

More than 300 people were reported to have been injured in clashes with the police on Wednesday.

Student groups critical of the government said they would take to the streets on Thursday.

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