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Charged in plot to kill president


Charged in plot to kill president

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) – A leading opposition figure learned Wednesday she is being charged with involvement in an alleged plot to kill President Nicolas Maduro, a move she called an attempt to silence her and other critics of Venezuela’s socialist government.

Maria Corina Machado, a former member of the National Assembly, left a private meeting with prosecutors at the Prosecutor General’s Office after authorities informed her that she would be charged with conspiracy. The charge carries a maximum of 16 years in prison.

Her case will now be assigned to a judge who will formally charge Machado and decide whether she should be detained pending trial.

“All the accusations and the supposed evidence are false,” Machado told reporters.

She has repeatedly said she has no knowledge of any plot against Maduro and portrays the allegations as political persecution.

“I have not committed any crime,” she said before meeting with prosecutors. “This is the price I have to pay for speaking the truth in Venezuela.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the charges against Machado “raise concerns once again about Venezuela’s arbitrary use of prosecutorial power to silence and punish government critics”.

Harf also repeated earlier U.S. calls for Venezuela to release dozens of students detained while protesting against the government as well as opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez and two opposition mayors, Daniel Ceballos and Enzo Scarano.

Authorities announced the investigation last March, claiming a plot was being formed against Maduro and others in the government involving Machado and several other opposition figures. Officials have not provided any evidence publicly beyond some allegedly incriminating emails. Machado has been barred from leaving the country since June.