Venezuelan prosecutors on Monday said they charged opposition politician Freddy Guevara with terrorism and treason, among other allegations, after the country's intelligence service arrested him from his car on a Caracas highway.
In a statement, the chief prosecutor's office said it had sought an arrest warrant for Guevara due to his alleged, quote, "ties with extremist groups and paramilitaries associated with the Colombian government."
Guevara is a close ally of opposition leader Juan Guaido, whom the United States recognizes as Venezuela's legitimate president. Guaido said unidentified armed men threatened him with arrest earlier on Monday as he left his apartment in an effort to assist Guevara.
A representative at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs Julie Chung wrote on Twitter, quote, "We strongly condemn the arrest of Venezuelan Congressman Freddy Guevara and threats against Interim President Juan Guaido in Venezuela."
She urged the international community to join in condemning the acts and called for the release of all political prisoners in Venezuela.
These incidents took place as the government of President Nicholas Maduro and opposition movement headed by Guaido prepare for negotiations planned for next month aimed at resolving the political crisis.
In an appearance on state television Monday, Maduro said the opposition should renounce violent tactics ahead of the talks. Without naming Guevara or Guaido, he said he had proof that some actors were plotting coups and that prosecutors acted on the basis of that proof.
Maduro also said the United States and the European Union should lift sanctions on Venezuela before the negotiations begin.