The chief of staff of Venezuela’s Juan Guaido, President of the National Assembly, has been detained in an overnight raid by the nation’s intelligence agency, a Guaido spokesman said Thursday.
The intelligence agency, SEBIN, planted weapons in the home of top Guaido aide Roberto Marrero as grounds for an arrest, the opposition spokesman Edward Rodríguez claimed.
The home of Guaido’s attorney, Sergio Vergara, was also raided overnight, but he was not taken into custody, according to the opposition.
Video of Vergara, who is also an opposition legislator, describes how intelligence agents searched his home. The footage was posed by opposition members on social media.
The government has not yet issued any statements on the raids, the arrest or the allegation of planting evidence.
The incident comes as Guaido is engaged in a power struggle with embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who is facing international pressure to step down amid a mounting humanitarian crisis. Most Western countries and regional neighbors, including the United States, have recognized Guaido as Venezuela’s leader.
The raids will be seen as a flexing of the muscle of Maduro’s government in an effort to intimidate Guaido supporters.
Aides were ‘being held hostage,’ Guaido tweets
Guaido, who has been recognized as interim president by more than 50 nations, tweeted about the detentions earlier Thursday.
“People of Venezuela and International community: since 2:24a SEBIN officials have been houses of my chief of staff Sergio Vergara and my Head Counsel Roberto Marrero. They are currently being held hostage at the site,” Guaido tweeted.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted the United States’ condemnation of the raids.
“The United States condemns raids by Maduro’s security services and detention of Roberto Marrero, Chief of Staff to Interim President (Guaido). We call for his immediate release. We will hold accountable those involved,” Pompeo wrote.
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