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CARACAS, Venezuela, Fri. Oct30, 2020 (Reuters) – Venezuelan chief prosecutor Tarek Saab on Thursday announced charges against journalist and activist Roland Carreno, the coordinator of opposition political party Popular Will, for alleged “terrorist financing” and conspiracy to destabilize the country.

Carreno had been arrested earlier this week in what opposition leader Juan Guaido, a Popular Will member, called a “forced disappearance.” Venezuelan authorities did not disclose Carreno’s arrest for nearly 24 hours after the party first denounced that he was apprehended by unidentified individuals.

“It has become clear that Carreno is in charge of distributing the money that funds the groups that are trying to submerge Venezuela in conflict,” Saab said in a state television address.

Carreno heard the charges during a court appearance on Wednesday, his lawyer wrote on Twitter.

Guaido has dismissed Carreno’s arrest as an act of political persecution by President Nicolas Maduro’s government. The U.S. National Security Council, a key ally of Venezuela’s opposition, said on Twitter on Thursday that the arrest was evidence of “the Maduro regime’s corruption and brutality.”

The arrest came after Popular Will leader Leopoldo Lopez fled the Spanish ambassador’s residence in Caracas, where he had been living as a guest since escaping house arrest in April 2019. Lopez arrived in Madrid on Sunday.

(Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Writing by Luc Cohen; Editing by Daniel Wallis)

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