EU Demands Immediate Release of Top Guaido Aide

W460

The European Union on Thursday demanded the "immediate" release of Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido's chief of staff after he was detained in defiance of international warnings.

EU spokesperson Maja Kocijancic said the bloc held Caracas responsible for the safety of Roberto Marrero, who was arrested by Venezuelan intelligence officers in a pre-dawn raid at his home in the capital.

"The European Union urges Mr Marrero to be released immediately and unconditionally, and holds the relevant authorities responsible for his safety and integrity," Kocijancic said in a statement.

"The immunity of the members of the National Assembly should be respected in all circumstances. The Members of Parliament should be able to perform their duties free of intimidation, as well as to uphold their role and constitutional prerogatives," Kocijancic added.

"Such acts undermine the international community's efforts to help foster a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in Venezuela."

The United States, one of more than 50 countries to recognize National Assembly head Guaido as Venezuela's rightful interim president, earlier likewise demanded Marrero's immediate release.

Maduro and Guaido both claim to be Venezuela's legitimate leaders but Maduro, 56, retains the loyalty of the military brass and has control of state apparatus.

Guaido, 35, declared himself interim president on January 23 and has the backing of the U.S. and more than 50 other countries, mostly in Latin America and the U.S.

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