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US Denounces Venezuela After Legislature Targeted Opposition Leader Guevara


FILE - Freddy Guevara, first Vice-President of the National Assembly and lawmaker of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties (MUD), attends a session of Venezuela's opposition-controlled National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, Aug. 2, 2017.

The United States has denounced Venezuela after its pro-government constitutional assembly declared opposition leader Freddy Guevara was no longer immune from prosecution when he sought refuge in the Chilean ambassador’s home in Caracas.

Guevara released a video saying he does not regret calling for disobedience after Monday’s constitutional assembly unanimous vote. The vote was expected after the supreme court Friday prohibited Guevara from leaving Venezuela and accused him of inciting unrest and other crimes.

Guevara, the second highest ranked member of the opposition-controlled congress, helped lead this year’s deadly protests against President Nicolas Maduro.

"By attempting to strip the democratically elected National Assembly's Vice President and opposition leader Freddy Guevara of his parliamentary immunity and barring him from leaving the country, the regime is pursuing yet another extreme measure to close the democratic space in Venezuela, criminalize dissent and control information," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Tuesday.

The case against Guevara has led to increased concern of another crackdown on Maduro’s opponents and leaves the opposition with fewer leaders to confront the president.

Guevara entered the Chilean ambassador’s residence on Saturday and requested protection, according to the Chilean government.

Guevara could be Venezuela’s highest-profile politician to seek exile in recent years.

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