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Rights groups concerned over welfare of detained Venezuelan attorney and activist Rocio San Miguel

Representatives of nearly 10 human rights organizations have held a press conference, demanding the immediate release of a prominent attorney and activist detained last week

Regina Garcia Cano
Wednesday 14 February 2024 18:14 GMT

Representatives of nearly 10 human rights organizations held a press conference on Wednesday, demanding the immediate release of a prominent attorney and activist detained last week.

They expressed concern over Rocio San Miguel's well-being and condemned her inability to access legal support of her choice.

San Miguel was detained Friday at the airport near the capital, Caracas, while she and her daughter awaited a flight to Miami. Her arrest set off a wave of criticism inside and outside the South American country.

Attorney General Tarek William Saab accused her, without offering any evidence, of having a link to a plot to kill President Nicolás Maduro and other officials and attack military units.

Saab on Tuesday said San Miguel had an initial hearing Monday on charges of treason, conspiracy and terrorism. One of her attorneys, Juan Gonzalez, said he had been told she would be held at the Helicoide prison — the most infamous institution for political prisoners.

San Miguel, 57, is specialized in researching Venezuela’s shadowy, often corrupt, armed forces. She is the head of the non-governmental organization Control Ciudadano, which focuses on human rights, security and the armed forces.

Police also detained San Miguel’s daughter, Miranda Díaz, ex-husband, Victor Díaz, two brothers and former partner. Saab said her former partner, Alejandro Jose Gonzalez de Canales Plaza, also had an initial hearing Monday on charges of revealing state and military secrets and obstruction of justice.

Authorities have not explicitly acknowledged the detention of Miranda and Victor. But Minnie Díaz, Victor’s sister, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that father and daughter have been released under the conditions that they check in regularly with authorities, do not travel outside the country and not speak to the media.

Minnie earlier told the AP that San Miguel and Miranda are dual citizens of Venezuela and Spain and that she hoped the latter's consulate would intervene.

Earlier this week, more than 200 local non-governmental organizations demanded the release of San Miguel and her family and urged the international community to condemn the actions against them.

San Miguel’s detention came more than three months since the U.S. government rolled back some economic sanctions against Venezuela after the administration of President Nicolás Maduro said it was committed to holding an election in the second half of 2024, lift bans preventing adversaries from holding office, and releasing political prisoners. Maduro's promises were part of an agreement signed on the Caribbean island of Barbados between his representatives and those of a faction of the opposition.

The administration of U.S. President Joe Biden has condemned the detentions and urged Maduro to follow through on his commitments.

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