Spain grants citizenship to freed Nicaraguan political prisoners | Human Rights News

The announcement comes after Nicaragua’s legislature moved to strip freed prisoners of their citizenship.

Spanish officials say they granted citizenship to more than 200 Nicaraguan political prisoners released earlier this week, after lawmakers affiliated with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega stripped them of their citizenship. their legal citizenship.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares announced the decision on Friday to the Servimedia news agency, a day after 222 political prisoners have been liberated by Nicaragua and sent to the United States.

Former prisoners include opposition leaders, journalists and religious figures who have been outspoken against Ortega, a politician who rights groups accuse of orchestrating a campaign of violence. to silence his critics.

In a statement on Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken welcomed the release as a step “towards a resolution human rights violations” in Nicaragua and said it was the result of “US diplomatic coordination”.

Meanwhile, the Ortega administration has described the prisoner release as an attempt to remove criminals from the Nicaraguan border. In a televised speech, Ortega mocked the prisoners as “spies” of foreign powers, saying, “Let them have their mercenaries.”

Ortega led a suppress dissent since Nicaragua was gripped by anti-government protests in April 2018.

The vote by the Nicaraguan legislature to revoke the citizenship of released prisoners has critics fear that 222 will become stateless. However, the decision would require a constitutional change to become official and a second vote on the citizenship issue is unlikely before 2024.

Albares told reporters that the Spanish government had made the decision to grant citizenship to former prisoners following “reports that proceedings have begun to declare them stateless”.

The prisoners were allowed to enter the US on temporary humanitarian visas. Spanish authorities said they would contact the prisoners to invite them to officially apply for citizenship.

The two individuals were released on Thursday but refused to board a plane to the US. One of them is a Catholic Bishop Rolando Alvarezwho is expected to be convicted on charges of conspiracy and spreading disinformation next week.

But his sentencing hearing was moved to Friday after the prisoners were released. Before the Managua appeals court, judge Octavio Ernesto Rothschuh handed Álvarez a 26-year sentence – the longest prison sentence for an opposition figure under Ortega’s presidency in recent years.

The court also announced that Álvarez would be fined and stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship.

Álvarez, one of Ortega’s most famous critics, has been in custody since August as police launched an investigation. raid before dawn on his church residence. He refused to leave Nicaragua on Thursday without being able to consult first with his fellow bishops, a condition that Ortega derided as “ridiculous”.

The bishop is believed to be being held at the nearby Modelo prison, a facility Amnesty International has accused of having tortured and inhumane conditions.


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