WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States and the United Kingdom on Tuesday condemned the detention of Venezuelan opposition politician Freddy Guevara, who faces charges of terrorism and treason following his arrest on a Caracas highway on Monday.
Guevara is a close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaido, who is recognized as the South American country's legitimate president by the United States and others.
Venezuela's chief prosecutor's office said on Monday it had sought an arrest warrant for Guevara due to his alleged "ties with extremist groups and paramilitaries associated with the Colombian government."
His detention came as opposition leaders including Guevara were seeking to hold negotiations with the government of President Nicolas Maduro, who the United States and Europe accuse of running roughshod over basic democratic principles.
"The United States strongly condemns the unjust detention of 2015 National Assembly representative Freddy Guevara and harassment of interim President Juan Guaido in Venezuela," State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters.
Washington enacted a broad sanctions program against Maduro's government in 2019 following his disputed 2018 re-election. Maduro and his allies say the sanctions violate international law.
British authorities joined in denouncing Guevara's arrest, while criticizing the incursion of security forces into the building where Guaido lives.
"The UK condemns the arrest of Freddy Guevara & intimidation of interim Venezuelan President Juan Guaido," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Twitter.
"The illegitimate Maduro regime must release Mr Guevara & all political prisoners. Free, fair elections are the only way to end the crisis in Venezuela."
Maduro said on Monday he was in favor of talks between the government and the opposition to be held in Mexico with the intermediation of Norway, which were meant in part to include discussions about conditions for the elections of governors and mayors to be held in November.
(Reporting by Simon Lewis in Washington and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Writing by Daphne Psaledakis and Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Leslie Adler and Peter Cooney)