Venezuela has been hit by more violent protests this week after President Nicolas Maduro imprisoned opposition leader Juan Guaido's deputy in a military prison.
Edgar Zambrano, deputy spokesman for the National Assembly with an opposition majority, is being held in custody for "blatantly committing crimes of betrayal, conspiracy and the civil uprising".
Zambrano was arrested on Wednesday by Maduro's intelligence agency under dramatic circumstances for supporting the April 30 uprising organized by US-backed enemy Guaido.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom many have recognized as the rightful ruler of the country, is taking part in a rally against the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas today
Opposition MP Edgar Zambrano was arrested by Venezuelan Secret Service agents this week and detained in a military prison
Maduro also accused his fired chief of intelligence, General Christopher Figuera, of being a CIA mole and the architect of the failed military uprising.
He said General Figuera was "the one who staged the coup" by contacting the group of around 30 members of the armed forces who had joined Guaido's mass demonstration.
Maduro said: "He was captured by the CIA a year ago and worked as a traitor, mole and infiltrator."
Figuera's overflow against the opposition resulted in the US rewarding him earlier this week by being removed from their sanctions list.
The regime's recent measures have heightened tensions over a national demonstration that Guaido called on Saturday to reject Supreme Court measures against opposition lawmakers.
Zambrano is one of ten indicted by the Supreme Court for participating in the April 30 movement.
Juan Guaido supporters attend a rally in support of the Venezuelan National Assembly
President Nicolas Maduro (pictured) has accused his fired chief of intelligence, General Christopher Figuera, of being a CIA mole and the architect of the failed military uprising
He was transferred to the Caracas headquarters of the military police, Fort Tiuna, the court said.
One of the other accused lawmakers, Luis Florido, said in a video on Friday that he had fled to neighboring Colombia, "protected from a regime that is ready to jail MPs," he said.
Three others – Richard Blanco, Mariela Magallanes and Americo De Grazia – have sought refuge at the Argentine and Italian embassies in Caracas.
Zambrano's lawyer Lilia Camejo condemned the trial that brought civilian Zambrano to a military prison and said his rights had been violated.
Camejo said: “Since the moment of arrest, they have violated the rights of the MP. We had no access to the files and could not be appointed to defend him. & # 39;
Guaido today vowed to oppose Supreme Court action against opposition lawmakers
Luis Florido, another accused lawmaker, announced in a video on Friday that he had fled to neighboring Colombia to protect himself from Maduro's regime
Demonstrators gather behind self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido and wave banners declaring their support for the constitution rather than a dictatorship
Guaido said on Thursday that the arrests were part of an offer by Maduro to dismantle the National Assembly's legislature, Venezuela's only opposition-controlled institution, but which the Supreme Court had already rendered Maduro impotent.
"If we can talk about a coup in Venezuela, it is here: the dismantling of the national parliament," said Guaido at a press conference, accusing Maduro's regime of "state terrorism".
The increase in regime repression "could be a precursor" to target Guaido itself, Eurasia Group's Latin American analyst Risa Grais-Targow said. "The arrest of Zambrano could be a test to measure the international community's response before taking action against Guaido."
His arrest on Wednesday evening was both bizarre and dramatic. Legislators commented on events live on Twitter as they played out.
The 64-year-old's car was surrounded in front of his Democratic Action Party's headquarters before being towed to the infamous Helicoide prison at SEBIN headquarters.
Guaido said Thursday the arrests were part of an offer by Maduro to dismantle the National Assembly legislature, Venezuela's only opposition-controlled institution
Venezuela was in turmoil in January when Guaido declared himself President-in-Office and directly questioned Maduro's authority
Guaido's recent attempt to undermine military support for the contested Maduro failed after two days of demonstrator-security clashes that left several people dead.
Venezuela was in turmoil in January when Guaido declared himself President-in-Office and directly questioned Maduro's authority.
Since then, he has been recognized by more than 50 countries as he increased the pressure to oust Maduro, whom he considers illegitimate after the 2018 elections and which is generally considered fraudulent.
But in months of crisis, Maduro – with the support of China, Russia and its armed forces – has held up.
Moises Rendon of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said: “The existing external and internal pressure was insufficient to convince Maduro and his inner circle to negotiate their exit. What happens next in Venezuela is extremely uncertain. & # 39;
Regardless, Venezuela announced on Friday that it would reopen its land border with Brazil after Maduro ordered its closure in February, frustrating Guaido's attempt to get most of the U.S. humanitarian aid across the border.
Vice President Tareck El Aissami said the border with Brazil had been "reestablished" and sea connections to the Caribbean island of Aruba had also been resumed.
The border with Colombia and connections to other parts of the former Netherlands Antilles, which were closed at the same time on Maduro's orders, remain closed, said El Aissami.
Venezuela has been in recession for more than four years, characterized by a lack of basic foodstuffs such as food and medicine.
According to the United Nations, a quarter of the country's 30 million people need help and more than 2.7 million have fled their homes.
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