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Venezuela opposition figure Leopoldo López leaves Spanish embassy


image copyrightReuters

image captionLeopoldo López, a Harvard-educated former mayor, was arrested in 2014 and charged with inciting violent protests

Leading Venezuelan opposition figure Leopoldo López has left Spain’s embassy in Caracas after seeking refuge there in April 2019 and secretly fled the country, his family says.

His father said Mr López had gone to Colombia and was now heading for Spain.

Mr López took shelter in the embassy after appearing with opposition leader Juan Guaidó and calling for a rebellion to oust President Nicolás Maduro.

He was arrested in 2014 accused of inciting violent political protests.

Mr López, who has repeatedly denied the charges, received a 14-year jail sentence in a military prison.

But in 2017, Mr López – a Harvard-educated former mayor who has been prevented by the government from standing for public office – was moved to house arrest.

He had been under house arrest when he was released last year by security agents backing the opposition.

A Venezuelan court then issued an arrest warrant for Mr López, stating that he had violated the terms of his house arrest. It said Mr López should serve the remainder of his 14-year sentence in prison.

He sought refuge at the residence of the Spanish ambassador in the Venezuelan capital.

On Saturday his father, also called Leopoldo López, said his son had left the embassy “about two days ago” and on Friday crossed the border into Colombia. He added that his son was making his way to the Spanish capital Madrid to be reunited with his wife and three children.

The Maduro government has not commented.

Venezuela has been engulfed in a years-long political and economic crisis.

Last month, hundreds of protests erupted across the country amid mounting anger over frequent power cuts and shortages of fuel and drinking water.

Residents accuse the Venezuelan government of neglecting states in the country’s interior – they say it diverts supplies to Caracas, where the government is based.

media captionCoronavirus: Venezuelans struggling with fuel shortage

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