The surprise arrest of opposition leader and Caracas mayor, Antonio Ledezma triggered backlash and uproar in the Venezuelan capital on Friday.
The arrest late Thursday upset many opponents of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro and is likely to upset those who condemn his government’s human rights record.
Ledezma was expected to be brought before a judge Friday. According to media reports, Maduro has alleged Ledezma was involved in a U.S.-led plot to overthrow his government. The State Department said in a statement that it is "deeply concerned by what appears to be the Venezuelan government’s effort to escalate intimidation of its political opponents by rounding up these prominent leaders of the opposition," the New York Times reported.
Former President Bill Clinton joined in the protest of Ledezma's arrest on Twitter, calling for his freedom.
Venezuelan politician Ismael Garcia also took to Twitter, saying he witnessed how Ledezma was taken from his office "like a dog." Ledezma's arrest was a "miserable act," he said in a tweet.
Maduro is facing increasing pressure over Venezuela's mounting economic woes, but opposition groups have not been able to focus the widespread discontent against the administration.
According to The Associated Press, a recent national poll shows Maduro’s approval rating has slipped to 22 percent since his presidency began in 2013.
Venezuela is expected to hold legislative elections later this year. The opposition hopes to win control of Congress.
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--The Associated Press