US Says Venezuela Involved in Opposition Politician’s Death

October 10, 2018 Updated: October 11, 2018

WASHINGTON—The White House on Oct. 10 condemned the death of an opposition politician in Venezuela and accused President Nicolas Maduro’s government of involvement in the death.

“The United States condemns the Maduro regime’s involvement in the death of Venezuelan opposition councilman Fernando Alban,” it said in a statement.

The statement also called for the release of all Venezuelan political prisoners and for Maduro’s government to “to re-establish democracy in Venezuela and to prevent further suffering and bloodshed,” adding that President Donald Trump’s administration would continue to increase pressure over the issue.

Authorities in Caracas have said the municipal politician killed himself by jumping out a window, while his Opposition First Justice party has said he was murdered.

Alban, 56, was jailed on Friday for alleged involvement in the explosion of two drones during an August military parade led by Maduro, according to Interior Minister Nestor Reverol. Venezuelan officials have given differing accounts of where he jumped, and on Oct. 9 the U.N. human rights office called for an independent investigation.

On Oct. 10, the White House noted that Alban died “while in the custody of Venezuela’s intelligence service.”

The United States imposed new sanctions on several of Maduro’s top allies last week as President Donald Trump urged UN members to support a “restoration of democracy” in Venezuela.

The opposition and rights groups have said that Maduro’s administration is holding hundreds of political prisoners on trumped-up charges intended to stifle dissent. The United Nations has said detainees are often subjected to ill treatment, including some documented cases that amount to torture.

Maduro’s government has denied that it holds political prisoners and has said those who have been imprisoned sought to destabilize the government.

Authorities have arrested at least 30 people linked to the Aug. 2 drone explosions, which injured seven soldiers.

By Susan Heavey