Venezuelan security forces have detained opposition leader Juan Guaido’s deputy, a week after Mr Guaido tried to spark a military uprising to bring down President Nicolas Maduro’s government.
- Edgar Zambrano is one of 10 Venezuelan opposition figures accused of treason
- He tweeted that his car had been surrounded by agents before being towed away
- Mr Zambrano is the first politician to be detained over an uprising attempt
Edgar Zambrano, vice-president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly said on Twitter that agents from the SEBIN intelligence agency were using a tow truck to drag his vehicle, with him inside, to one of their Caracas bases.
“The regime has kidnapped the first vice president,” Mr Guaido said on Twitter.
On Tuesday, Venezuela’s pro-Maduro Constituent Assembly ruled to strip Mr Zambrano and six other opposition politicians of their parliamentary immunity to allow their future prosecution.
Space to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to seek, up and down arrows for volume.VIDEO 0:52
There were riots in Caracas last week after Juan Guaido called for an uprising.ABC NEWS
The Supreme Court had earlier accused the politicians of conspiracy, rebellion and treason. On Wednesday, the court accused three others of the same crimes.
“One of the principal conspirators of the coup has just been arrested,” Diosdado Cabello, head of the Constituent Assembly, said in comments broadcast on state television.
“They will have to pay before the courts for the failed coup that they attempted.”
The opposition said Mr Maduro had stacked the court with his own supporters. The United States government this week threatened to sanction all its members.
The attempted uprising last week led by Mr Guaido, who is recognised as the rightful head of state by the US, Australia and other Western countries, failed to dislodge Mr Maduro, as have US sanctions against his government.
Mr Zambrano said on Twitter that SEBIN agents had surrounded his vehicle near the headquarters of his Democratic Action party in Caracas’ La Florida district.
“We were surprised by the SEBIN, and after refusing to let us leave our vehicle, they used a tow truck to forcibly transfer us directly to the [SEBIN headquarters] Helicoide,” he said.
It was not yet clear if Mr Zambrano was already at the Helicoide.
Mr Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, denouncing Mr Maduro’s rule as illegitimate after he secured re-election last year in a vote widely viewed as fraudulent.
More than 3 million Venezuelans have left their homeland in recent years amid skyrocketing inflation and severe shortages of food and medicine.
The Trump administration blames Mr Maduro’s socialist policies and government mismanagement for Venezuela’s economic crunch, warning that 2 million more people are expected to flee by the end of the year if the crisis continues.