Lorent Saleh, a dissident activist who had been under regime custody for four years, was exiled from Venezuela today in an unexpected move that saw him board a plane to Spain
Rumours that Saleh’s release was imminent began to swirl on social media early this afternoon. However, it was not until approximately 5:30 PM local time that Maduro’s Constituent Assembly–a pseudo-legislative body made up entirely of hand-picked regime loyalists–confirmed the news in a press release.
Part of the press release reads:
… today, [Lorent Saleh] left for Spain alongside authorities from the government of that country, in response to a request made to the [Constituent Assembly] by his mother, Yamile Saleh, and by Lorent Saleh himself.
Saleh was arrested in 2014 after he was accused by the Maduro regime of plotting to wage a terrorist campaign against the Venezuelan government with the aid of Colombian paramilitaries. Saleh, who had fled to Colombia to avoid arrest, was arrested and deported to Venezuela.
During the past four years, Saleh’s preliminary hearing has been delayed 53 times, which means that he was never brought to trial. On some occasions, Saleh’s hearings were postponed because the authorities refused to transport him to court.
Saleh spent at least 26 months in La Tumba, the infamous holding cells deep beneath the SEBIN headquarters in El Helicoide, Caracas. where inmates are routinely tortured and kept in hellish conditions.
In 2017, Saleh was named one of the recipients of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize, which was awarded to the Venezuelan opposition for their struggle against the Maduro regime.
Eight Feared Dead in Border Crossing
Tachira state’s Civil Protection office announced today that as many as eight individuals may have drowned attempting to cross the Tachira river into Colombia.
The news came from William Perez, the subdirector of the state’s Civil Protection unit, who said:
We have information [showing that] between five and eight people died due to drowning. We’ve only recovered two bodies so far.
Perez explained that the authorities are still looking for other bodies, since witnesses claim to have seen the group being swept away by what may have been a flash flood.
The individuals were attempting to cross into Colombia across the Tachira river, which separates the two countries, at a point approximately 5 kilometers south of the official crossing at the Simon Bolivar International Bridge.
Since 2013, more than 2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country seeking respite from the country’s socio-economic collapse. Nearly a million of them have crossed into Colombia so far in 2018.
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