U.S. urges Venezuela to release political prisoners

The State Department issued a new call for the release of Leopoldo Lopez and other dissidents, days after the Venezuelan Supreme Court upheld his imprisonment.

Popular Will party founder Lopez is serving a nearly 14-year sentence on charges of inciting unrest at anti-government protests in 2014.

"We call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience, respect for the rule of law, the freedom of the press, the separation of constitutional powers within the government, and the restoration of a democratic process that reflects the will of the Venezuelan people," the department's acting spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.

"The United States reiterates its dismay and concern about these arrests, and other actions taken by the Venezuelan government to criminalize dissent and deny its citizens the benefits of democracy," the statement said.

The ruling on Lopez's appeal, which was filed in July, came a day after Trump received Lopez's wife Lilian Tintori at the White House and posted a tweet calling for the prisoner's release.