Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Zambrano released from jail | News | DW | 18.09.2019
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Venezuelan opposition lawmaker Zambrano released from jail

Edgar Zambrano had been detained on charges of treason following a failure to seize control in April. His allies have said his liberation was a result of global pressure and not one of goodwill from President Maduro.

Venezuela released key opposition figure Edgar Zambrano from jail on Tuesday, where he had been held since a failed uprising earlier this year.

A relieved and defiant Zambrano told journalists upon being set free: "I managed to escape from a situation that I hope all political prisoners manage to escape from. Politics took me to prison, and its politics that got me out."

Read more: Venezuela 'ready' to defend itself against US

The 64-year-old was the vice president of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly at the time of his detention on grounds of treason.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab confirmed Zambrano's freedom "following partial agreements reached by the Venezuelan government and sectors of the national opposition."

The release was welcomed by opposition politician Timoteo Zambrano (no relation to Edgar) on Twitter. He saw it as a turning point in Venezuelan politics: "The process of freeing political prisoners has begun. We celebrate the freedom of our colleague, the deputy Edgar Zambrano."

Read more: Venezuela: Coup or uprising? It depends on who you support

Zambrano had been held in the notorious military prison of Helicoide following his dramatic arrest by intelligence agents for supporting a failed uprising coordinated by opposition leader Juan Guaido.

The head of the Social-Democratic Popular Will Party led approximately 30 members of the armed forces in an attempt to oust President Nicolas Maduro, but while it resulted in two days of deadly confrontation, it ultimately proved to be unsuccessful.

Zambrano was one of 15 politicians detained in a subsequent crackdown. His arrest came as his vehicle was surrounded outside his Democratic Action Party's headquarters before it was towed away, with him still in it.

Popular pressure, not goodwill

Some may see his release as a sign of goodwill from President Maduro but opposition chief Guaido refuted such notions.

"The liberation of Zambrano and political prisoners is a victory of citizen and international pressure, not a 'kind gesture' from the dictatorship," he tweeted.

The lawmaker's release comes just one day after Maduro and fellow Venezuelan deputies announced they would return to the opposition-dominated National Assembly, which they walked out on three years ago.

Politicians from Maduro's government abandoned congress after losing control in elections, and they in turn set up their own, breakaway, assembly to sideline the opposition-controlled body.

jsi/se (AFP, Reuters)

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