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Venezuela Opposition Leader Denies Assassination Plot Involvement

Deposed Venezuelan Congresswoman Maria Corina Machado, Dec 4, 2014. (Aymara Lorenzo Ferrigni/VOA)

Venezuelan opposition leader, Maria Corina Machado, says charges she was involved in a plot to kill Venezuela's president are an attempt to silence her and critics of the government.

In an interview with VOA's Caracas-based reporter Alvaro Algarra, Machado said "the government has decided again to increase repression and persecution in Venezuela against every single citizen who defends and speaks out with the truth."

Thursday morning, Machado met with prosecutors who told her she would be charged with conspiracy for involvement in a plot to kill Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. The charge carries a maximum of 16 years in prison. Machado says the government "has no proof, because it's absolutely false."

In March, government authorities announced an investigation into a plot against Maduro and other government officials involving Machado and other opposition figures. One of her attorneys says the government has yet to provide any specific proof of a link between Machado and the alleged plot.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the charges against Machado "raise concerns once again about Venezuela's arbitrary use of prosecutorial power to silence and punish government critics."

Harf repeated U.S. calls for the release of political prisoners, including a dozen students detained during government protests.

So far, Machado has not been detained, but she is not allowed to leave the country.

Machado is a former member of the Venezuelan National Assembly. She told VOA that she has "no fear and the truth will prevail once again and I am absolutely convinced that we are moving ahead in the transition to democracy and peace in Venezuela."