Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro slams US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for ‘stupid’ sanctions.
Venezuela has granted house arrest to two managers at state oil company Petroleos de Venezuela who were convicted on charges of divulging confidential information, their defence lawyer said in a telephone interview.
Aryenis Torrealba and Alfredo Chirinos, from PDVSA’s supply and trading department, were sentenced to five years in prison last week. They were arrested in February 2020 on allegations of leaking information to the United States government, which in 2019 sanctioned PDVSA to try to remove President Nicolas Maduro.
Antonio Molina, Torrealba’s and Chirinos’s defence lawyer, told the Reuters news agency the two had arrived home with their families and he would continue to advocate for reversing the sentence.
“Justice is being done in this case,” Molina said, noting that earlier charges against Torrealba and Chirinos, including “terrorism”, were dropped.
On Wednesday, relatives of Torrealba and Chirinos issued a statement thanking “the relevant authorities who made good on this right we had clamoured for.
“We call on the national and international community to accompany us in the cause and not rest until we achieve the full freedom of our unjustly sentenced comrades,” the committee’s statement read.
Torrealba’s and Chirinos’s parents have said both they and their children were supporters of the socialist revolution launched by Maduro’s predecessor and mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez. But they argued their children were singled out for speaking out against corruption in the PDVSA.
The Venezuelan opposition and the US government argue that Maduro has used the country’s justice system to silence critics
The OPEC nation’s oil output has collapsed to less than 500,000 barrels per day (bpd), down from more than two million bpd when Maduro took office in 2013, due to years of underinvestment and mismanagement and, more recently, sanctions.