Ivan Simonovis, a former police officer in detention since 2004 and Venezuela’s most well-known political prisoner, was released from house arrest earlier today in a move that caught the country by surprise.
Simonovis was the longest-serving political prisoner in regime custody, having been sentenced to prison in 2004 over his alleged role in the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez. Since 2014, Simonovis had been living under house arrest in Caracas.
Juan Guaido confirmed Simonovis’ release in a tweet
Ivan Simonovis did not escape, he was freed. As part of #OperationLiberty [the failed April 30 uprising], we signed a pardon for commissioner Ivan Simonovis that was carried out today by democratic forces loyal to our constitution, both from the SEBIN and from the armed forces.
If the information provided by Guaido is accurate, then Simonovis was originally going to be released back on April 30 alongside Leopoldo Lopez. Both men were under the custody of the Servicio Bolivariano de Inteligencia Nacional (National Bolivarian Intelligence Service, SEBIN).
The fact that both Lopez and now Simonovis were released from SEBIN custody has lend credence to speculating that the feared police body is torn by internal divisions and disloyalty to the Maduro regime.
Following Lopez’s release on April 30, SEBIN chief Manuel Cristopher Figuera was removed from his position. Figuera, who is now living in Colombia, has since spoken out against the Maduro regime and is reported to be in contact with authorities from the United States.
Simonovis’ Saga Dates to 2004
Simonovis was arrested in 2004 over his alleged role in the failed coup d’etat against Chavez in April of 2002
At the time of the coup, Simonovis was the citizen security for the city of Caracas. In 2009, Simonovis was sentenced to 30 years in prison after the government alleged that he had been responsible for the events on the Llaguno Overpass on April 11 2002, which left 19 people dead and over a hundred more injured.
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