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Venezuela

Activist Lilian Tintori barred from leaving Venezuela for European trip

Lilian Tintori said her passport was seized ahead of a trip to Europe to discuss her country's political crisis. She has been asked to appear in court over a large sum of cash, which she said was for medical emergencies.

Venezuela's opposition activist Lilian Tintori said on Saturday that she had been barred from traveling to Europe and her passport had been seized by the authorities. While no explanation for the move was forthcoming, the seizure came one day after she was ordered to appear before a judge over a large sum of money found her in car.

"The evidence is clear why the dictatorship is stirring the pot against me," Tintori wrote on Twitter. "They want to keep me from talking about the humanitarian crisis we are living in Venezuela."

She shared a picture on Twitter of herself with the ambassadors from Spain, Italy, and Germany's Stefan Andreas Herzberg, who she said were witnesses to the incident:

The human rights activist was due to travel to France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom. None of the foreign leaders she was due to meet have yet reponded with comments on her situation.

Tintori's husband, the politician Leopoldo Lopez, is currently under house arrest after he was convicted of "inciting violence” during 2014 anti-government protests. He served three years of his 14-year sentence before being allowed to serve the remainder of his jail time at home.

Cash found in Tintori's car

On Friday, Tintori was informed that 200 million bolivars ($11,000 at the black market rate) had been found in her car, prompting a judicial probe. She responded that the inquiry was politically motivated, and that she had been hoarding the money for potential family medical emergencies while the country's finances are in chaos.

She added in her video statement that it was not a crime to have that much money in cash.

More than 120 people were killed earlier this year during anti-government protests that at times paralyzed the capital Caracas. Venezuelans are angry with deteriorating conditions - including often being unable to buy basic goods and medicines.

The situation was further exacerbated by a controversial new legislative vote orchestrated by President Nicolas Maduro that saw the opposition-led National Assembly replaced by a new Constituent Assembly that observers say provides unfairly large representation to rural pockets of the country that are more supportive of Maduro's socialist party.

es/jm (AP, Reuters)

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