- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Venezuela’s opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, went before a judge Wednesday to face terrorism charges while his supporters rallied outside the Palace of Justice.

The arraignment comes just one day after he turned himself in to authorities, saying he had nothing to hide.

What happens inside the courtroom will determine whether he awaits his upcoming trial in jail or from home, according to the Guardian.

“We are working to sanction those who are responsible not only as material authors but as intellectual authors. That is, those who call for or incite violence. These messages are direct but sometimes also subliminal,” said Luisa Ortega, a public prosecutor, the Guardian reported.

Amnesty International released a statement Tuesday that said the charges leveled against Mr. Lopez “smack of a politically motivated attempt to silence dissent in the country.”

“The options I had were leave the country, and I will never leave Venezuela!” Mr. Lopez told the massive crowd on Tuesday, according to CNN. “The other option was to remain in hiding, but that option could have left doubt among some, including some who are here, and we don’t have anything to hide.”

In addition to blaming Mr. Lopez for the unrest in Venezuela, President Maduro’s government has also accused the United States of encouraging dissent, charges the U.S. categorically deny.

Three U.S. diplomats were expelled from the county on Sunday and accused of conspiring against the socialist regime.

“The allegations that the United States is helping to organize protestors in Venezuela is baseless and false,” State Department spokesman Jen Psaki said Tuesday. “We support human rights and fundamental freedoms — including freedom of expression and of peaceful assembly — in Venezuela as we do in countries around the world. But as we have long said, Venezuela’s political future is for the Venezuelan people to decide. We urge their government to engage all parties in meaningful dialogue.”

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