Freed Venezuelan activist Lorent Saleh arrives in Spain
Lorent Saleh’s mother Yamileh Saleh (R) rushed to a Caracas jail and then learn her son was delivered to Europe [Ronaldo Schemidt/ AFP]
Venezuelan authorities have freed a prominent opposition activist jailed for four years just days after an anti-government politician died in state custody.
Lorent Saleh, 30, on Friday and placed on a flight to Madrid with Spanish government officials was immediately escorted to the airport.
Upon coming to Madrid’s airport Saturday, Saleh told media and a little band of exuberant Venezuelan opposition supporters that “the fight continues on”.
“What I ask is that people all take into account the proven fact that in Venezuela you can find innocent people behind bars, some people that have been kidnapped and who deserve to cross exactly the same bridge that I’ve,” Saleh said.
Saleh said he didn’t know he had been released before last second.
“That they had already put me in a police car and we were going to the airport if they explained,” Saleh said.
“Today I have already been able to start to see the sunrise for the very first time in four years, and I’m arriving at grips with that still.”
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His release came days after Fernando Alban just, a Caracas city council member accused of getting involved in a failed drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro, died in pretrial detention, an incident that sparked international outrage.
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Authorities say the 52-year-old committed suicide by jumping out of a 10th-floor window of the constant state intelligence service headquarters. But his family and supporters say he was tortured to death and thrown out.
Several foreign governments and the US have needed an unbiased investigation to find out whether foul play was involved.
A government truth commission said Saleh was vulnerable to causing injury to himself after being evaluated for suicidal tendencies while imprisoned. It said he ought to be released within efforts to help ease political tensions in the South American nation.
Saleh was arrested in Colombia in 2014 and extradited, after he appeared on a video telephone call leaked by Venezuelan authorities bragging to an unknown person about plans to employ sharpshooters to sow unrest in Venezuela.
His extradition was condemned by human rights groups widely, who argued he could never get yourself a fair trial in Venezuela and will be put through harsh conditions of confinement.
News of Saleh’s release on Saturday also came as a shock to his supporters, and his mother even, who rushed to a Caracas jail looking to receive her son and then learn he previously been delivered to Europe.
“I didn’t know any thing relating to this. I thought he’d be turned over here, but what’s important is that he’s free,” a weeping Yamile Saleh told journalists beyond your jail.
“He tried to calm me, saying he could be with people he trusts,” she said after talking with her son by phone.
Saleh thanked Spain because of its role in his release and said he hoped to see his mother soon.
Spain released a statement following Saleh’s arrival saying that diplomat Juan Pablo de Laiglesia had travelled with Saleh.
The statement said Spain considered Saleh’s release “the right decision by the Venezuelan government to go in the right direction of helping generate a climate of trust”.