Latin America & Caribbean

Venezuela 'frees Lorent Saleh amid suicide concerns'

Student and president of the Venezuelan non-governmental organization "Operacion Libertad" (Operation Freedom) Lorent Saleh during a meeting Image copyright EPA
Image caption Lorent Saleh had been detained since 2014

The Venezuelan government says it has released a political activist who has been held without trial since 2014.

Lorent Saleh was arrested in September 2014, accused of links to Colombian paramilitaries, as well as planning terrorist acts and a coup.

The 30-year-old former student leader was mainly held in the country's intelligence agency building in the capital Caracas.

Officials said he was being released due to concerns about his mental state.

According to a government statement, there were concerns he could become violent or take his own life.

His release comes just days after officials said jailed opposition lawmaker, Fernando Albán, threw himself from the 10th floor of the intelligence agency building.

The councillor's death drew condemnation from the US and the UN, while Mr Albán's party accused the regime of murder.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption His mother Yamileh was pictured hugging supporters outside the intelligence service building

The government said Mr Saleh was being flown to Spain for treatment.

A spokeswoman for the Human Rights commission at the European Parliament, Beatriz Becerra said his release would not lead to the international community dropping its guard over Venezuela.

She added that hundreds of prisoners were suffering torture or kidnapping in Venezuela.

"Lorent Saleh is a witness to the atrocities of the regime," she said.

Mr Saleh was awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2017, which is given to defenders of Human Rights.

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