Venezuela's Maduro Tightens Pressure on Opposition

Juan Guaido calls the arrest of one of his closest supporters a kidnapping

Juan Guaido calls the arrest of one of his closest supporters a kidnapping

Opposition Deputy of the National Assembly Stalin Gonzalez talks to journalists at the Democratic Action political party headquarters in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 8, 2019, after National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano was arrested when leaving the headquarters.

Separately, Venezuela's Supreme Court indicted three more lawmakers for backing Guaido's uprising, which set off two days of clashes between security forces and protesters.

Government officials had announced that Mr Zambrano and eight other opposition lawmakers faced investigation on charges of "betraying the homeland" and "instigating an insurrection", for their roles in last week's unrest.

It is a clear sign that President Nicolas Maduro's government has begun going after foes tied to a failed attempt to stir up a military uprising last week.

Zambrano was arrested on Wednesday by agents from the SEBIN intelligence service who used a tow truck to drag away his vehicle with him inside.

The opposition, led by Mr Guaido, said it doesn't back this decision.

The opposition said Mr Maduro had stacked the court with his own supporters.

The US, one of the dozens of Governments including the United Kingdom which recognised the leadership of Mr Guaido in January, condemned the arrest of Zambrano and issued a stark warning against Mr Maduro.

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The US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo on Thursday (local time) called Venezuelan National Assembly's Vice President's detainment as an illegal act, calling for his immediate release.

It was not yet clear if Mr Zambrano was already at the Helicoide.

Edgar Zambrano is deputy to National Assembly speaker Guaido, who organised the revolt by around 30 members of the armed forces, many of whom subsequently fled to the Brazilian embassy.

Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing Maduro's 2018 reelection was illegitimate.

"Investigations have succeeded in proving that General Manuel Ricardo Cristopher Figuera has been recruited by the Central Intelligence Agency for more than a year", Maduro said, adding that justice would be served on the "traitor" Figuera "sooner rather than later".

President Trump did not mention Edgar Zambrano but said the USA would stand with the people of Venezuela "for however long it takes".

He is close to Henry Ramos, the former head of congress who has been accused of taking part in an earlier alleged conspiracy to oust Mr Maduro.

The judicial measure against Zambrano was dictated after he was apprehended once his parliamentary immunity had been raided by the National Constituent Assembly, and by virtue of the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic, for being implicated in the attempted coup d'état.

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