Spain will not allow its Venezuela embassy to become center of political activity

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Spain will not allow its embassy in Caracas to be used as a political center for opposition politician Leopoldo Lopez, acting Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said in Lebanon on Friday.

Lopez, an ally of Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, took refuge at the Spanish residence with his wife and children earlier this week after an attempted military uprising against the government failed.

“Spain will not permit its embassy to be converted in to a center of political activity by Mr Lopez, or anyone else,” Borrell said on the sidelines of a conference in Beirut.

On Thursday, Spain said it would not turn Lopez over to the Venezuelan authorities after a court issued a warrant for his arrest, saying he violated an order that required him to remain under house arrest and restricted his ability to speak publicly.

Lopez was arrested during a protest movement in 2014 and transferred to house arrest in 2017. He escaped and appeared with Guaido and dozens of soldiers on Tuesday before seeking refuge at the embassy.

However, Borrell said that, while Spain would not hand Lopez over to Venezuelan authorities, he would not grant asylum to the opposition leader.

“Lopez has not asked for political asylum because, according to our legislation, for that you must request it while on Spanish territory,” Borrell said adding that while he was at the embassy, there would be a limit to his political activity.

Reporting by Miguel Gutierrez and Jesus Aguado; Writing by Paul Day in Madrid; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky and Alison Williams