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White House ‘deeply concerned’ over arrest of Venezuelan activist

Feb. 13 (UPI) — The U.S. government is “deeply concerned” over the arrest of Venezuelan activist Rocío San Miguel, who has not been heard from since Friday, White House spokesman John Kirby told reporters Tuesday.

“We are aware of reports that Rocío San Miguel and I think a couple of members of her family now have been taken into custody. We’re deeply concerned about that,” Kirby said.

San Miguel, 57, who specializes in security matters and is a vocal critic of President Nicolás Madura’s government, was arrested Friday at Maiquetia International Airport along with five of her relatives, her lawyer Juan Luis González told CNN.

San Miguel was charged with treason, conspiracy, terrorism and criminal association with the “White Bracelet” plot, an alleged plot — with reportedly no evidence — to kill President Maduro, according to Venezuela’s Attorney General Tarek William Saab.

Last month, the U.S. State Department announced plans to reimpose sanctions on Venezuela due to President Maduro’s failure to uphold an agreement, signed in October, guaranteeing democratic elections.

“There is a time when Mr. Maduro needs to meet the commitments that he made about how they’re going to treat civil society, political activists and opposition parties … I won’t go speculating about what happened here and what we might do as a result, but I can tell you we’re watching very closely,” Kirby said.

In response to Kirby’s remarks Tuesday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Yvan Gil accused the United States of “plotting to murder Maduro,” in a post on X.

“The U.S. government supports terrorists who have confessed their crimes and the orders they received to attack our people,” Gil wrote. “They are complicit in terrorism and interventionist actions against Venezuela.”

San Miguel is part of a wave of recent detentions — that include the arrests of 36 government critics — as the Venezuelan government prepares to announce the date of the presidential election, which is due to be held later this year.

González called all of the arrests, including the arrests of “anyone who is emotionally attached” to San Miguel, a “dire warning.”

“I think this is a dire warning for those of us who have resolved to defend the human rights of people who are imprisoned or persecuted for political reasons, and also for those who document human rights violations in Venezuela.”

The U.N. High Commission for Human Rights also expressed “deep concern” over San Miguel’s arrest in a post on X.

“We are following up on the detention of human rights defender Rocío San Miguel with deep concern. Her whereabouts remain unknown, potentially qualifying her detention as an enforced disappearance. We urge her immediate release and respect for her right to legal defense.”

Source: MSN