Venezuelan prosecutor Franklin Nieves, who helped send political opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez to jail, is now claiming the trial was a farce based on false evidence.
“Leopoldo López is innocent,” Nieves told The Wall Street Journal.
In September, after a yearlong trial, López was sentenced to almost 14 years in prison for 'inciting violence' in last year's street protests in Venezuela. Lopez said he did not call for violence. But prosecutors argued that violence was implicit in Lopez's calls for the resignation of current President Nicolas Maduro. Lopez is serving his sentence in a military prison.
Nieves, however, said the conviction was based on false evidence. He has warned that he will soon be releasing all of the details of what happened before, during and after the trial.
Nieves and his family are now in Miami seeking asylum in the U.S., according to the Wall Street Journal. To get to Miami, he and his family claimed they were going on vacation in Aruba, but he, his wife and two daughters went to the U.S. instead.
"I decided to leave Venezuela with my family because of the pressure that I was under from the executive branch and my superiors to continue to defend the false evidence that was used to convict Leopoldo López," he said in the videos.
Nieves is urging his colleagues to tell the truth about the trial as well.
Juan Carlos Gutiérrez, the lawyer in charge of Lopez's case tweeted, "The trial against Leopoldo Lopez suffers from the defect of nullity. The sentence should be revoked and he should be released immediately." Nullity is a term used in legal circles. In this case it means the trial was defective and should be invalidated.
"El juicio contra @leopoldolopez se encuentra viciado de nulidad absoluta. La condena debe ser revocada e inmediatamente liberado."
Venezuela's chief prosecutor, Luisa Ortega Diaz, denied that Nieves was pressured to go after Lopez, and rejected calls to annul Lopez's sentence. She said in an interview with Venevision, that Nieves is "anti-national," and said that his allegations are too vague and he has no concrete facts that prove there was false evidence in the trial.
"We at the prosecutors' office, we don't put pressure on anyone," she said in a televised interview.
Twenty members of the U.S. Congress have called for sanctions against Nieves and four other Venezuelan officials involved in Lopez's trial. The request came in a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, according to the Associated Press.
Nieves said he has learned of an investigation that may lead to the planting of false evidence against him and Lopez.
"Those who know and love me, know that from this moment on, they are going to hear insults and disqualifications against me because I decided to not continue with this," he said in the video.