Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua opposition activist Félix Maradiaga faces arrest

A masked youngster protests against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in Managua on 13 September, 2018. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Hundreds of people have died during anti-government protests which started in April

A judge in Nicaragua has issued an arrest warrant for opposition activist Felix Maradiaga, accusing him of having financed anti-government protests.

Hundreds of people have been killed since the wave of protests began in April.

Mr Maradiaga, who is believed to be outside Nicaragua, has denied any wrongdoing.

He also said that he believed it was his duty to continue the "civic struggle" against the government.

Read more about Nicaragua's crisis:

Hundreds of people have been arrested in connection with the protests and human rights group say more than a hundred are still being held.

A report by the United Nations Office on Human Rights published last month said government opponents had been "persecuted and criminalised".

Many of those who led the protests have gone abroad for fear of being detained.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption Relatives of those detained are demanding the release of their loved ones

Mr Maradiaga recently spoke before the United Nations Security Council of what he said was the "climate of terror and indiscriminate persecution" in Nicaragua.

Prosecutors accuse Mr Maradiaga and two other men, Pío Arellano and Jean Carlos López, of organised crime and financing terrorism.

They say the three men used the think-tank Mr Maradiaga heads, the Institute of Strategic Studies and Public Policies, to channel money to the protesters.

The funds were allegedly used to train demonstrators in how to destabilise the government of President Daniel Ortega.

Mr Maradiaga says that he had "always been guided by justice, non-violence and integrity".

"I'm not surprised that the tyrannical Ortega-Murillo family should insist in my persecution," he said of the family of the president and his wife and Vice-President, Rosario Murillo.

"They're using the most ridiculous and false arguments, but I'm surprised they think these made-up allegations will shut me up in my search for freedom and justice."

The judge also ordered that the homes of the three men be searched.

The Nicaraguan government accuses the protesters of trying to topple the government by fanning violent protests. President Ortega has denied his country is holding any political prisoners and has described those detained as criminals.

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