Venezuela frees jailed politician, opposition seeks more releases

Venezuela has freed a politician accused of fomenting violent protests in 2014, but opposition leaders said on Friday it was not enough and demanded President Nicolas Maduro's government release all 100 or so jailed opponents. 

The liberation of Rosmit Mantilla, a well-known activist for the Popular Will party, came amid Vatican-brokered talks between the socialist government and the opposition. "I remain hopeful my comrades still behind bars will be freed soon...my commitment remains strong for all Venezuelans’ freedom" Mantilla, 33, told reporters after being released and going straight to

"I remain hopeful my comrades still behind bars will be freed soon...my commitment remains strong for all Venezuelans’ freedom" Mantilla, 33, told reporters after being released and going straight to

Mantilla, 33, told reporters after being released and going straight to hospital for gall bladder surgery. Mantilla was arrested in his grandparents’ apartment and accused of helping finance anti-Maduro protests that led to violence and 43 deaths in 2014. Supporters say authorities framed him by placing envelopes with money in the apartment.

Amnesty International welcomed Mantilla's release, saying he was victimized for rights work. "He should have never been made to spend a second behind bars. The Venezuelan authorities must now build on this positive step and release all imprisoned activists and political leaders whose only 'crime' was to disagree with the government," it said.

Local rights group Penal Forum says that after Mantilla's release, Venezuela still holds 108 political prisoners, and is using them as chips in the Vatican-mediated negotiations. The opposition coalition puts the number higher at 135.

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