SANTIAGO (AFP) – Jailed Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez said in comments published Sunday he would not accept expulsion to another country.
“That will never happen,” Lopez said in a written response to questions by the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said earlier this month that the only way Lopez could leave prison would be in a swap for a Puerto Rican nationalist, Oscar Lopez Ramirez, imprisoned in the United States.
“Maduro’s proposal makes clear I am a political prisoner. But I am never going to abandon Venezuela,” he said. Lopez, leader of the Popular Will party, was arrested in February 2014, accused of inciting violence for having championed street protests to bring pressure on Maduro to resign.
At least 43 people, most of them protesters, were killed in anti-government demonstrations that raged from February to May over rampant crime, shortages and soaring inflation.
“I don’t know (Maduro’s) intentions, but it is very clear that with each passing day it becomes increasingly unsustainable for him to keep me unjustly and arbitrarily deprived of my liberty,” he said.
Lopez’s case has drawn the concern of the European Union and the UN Committee against Torture.