CARACAS (Reuters) - Human rights activist Lilian Tintori, the wife of Venezuela’s best-known detained political leader, said on Saturday she had been barred from flying out of the country and summoned to a court hearing over cash found in her vehicle.
French President Emmanuel Macron weighed in to say that Tintori was expected in Europe and Venezuela’s opposition should remain free.
Tintori, whose husband, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, is under house arrest, frequently travels abroad to campaign against President Nicolas Maduro’s socialist government and denounce rights abuses.
“The dictatorship wants to stop us going on a very important international tour,” tweeted Tintori, showing a photo of herself at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas holding papers that said her departure was prohibited and passport confiscated.
Tintori said she had been scheduled to meet European leaders including Spain’s Mariano Rajoy, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Britain’s Theresa May.
“The ambassadors of Spain, Germany and Italy accompanied me, they are witnesses to the dictatorship’s abuse,” she tweeted with a photo of the diplomats at the airport.
Tintori, who is four months pregnant, has been ordered to appear at a Caracas court on Tuesday to answer questions over 200 million bolivars of cash found by police in her car.
That is equivalent to nearly $11,000 at the widely used black market currency rate, and Tintori said they were personal funds intended mainly to cover medical costs for her hospitalized, 100-year-old grandmother.
Venezuela’s opposition says the Maduro government has stepped up repression of opponents this year, while officials say they are acting to stop violent coup plots fomented by the United States and other foreign powers.
There was no immediate government comment on Tintori’s statements on Saturday from the airport.
Macron, who on Tuesday called Maduro’s administration “a dictatorship trying to survive at the cost of unprecedented humanitarian distress,” tweeted on Saturday: “We are expecting Lilian Tintori in Europe. The Venezuelan opposition must remain free.”
The situation in Venezuela has a particular resonance in France since the far-left France Unbowed party, currently Macron’s most vocal opponent, backs Maduro.
Writing by Andrew Cawthorne; Additional reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey and Ingrid Melander in Paris; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn