RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nicaraguan lawyer Elton Ortega, defender of opposition presidential pre-candidates Arturo Cruz and Juan Sebastián Chamorro, both detained almost four months before the general elections under a law that labels them as “traitors of the homeland”, left Nicaragua due to “threats”, informed Thursday, the press team of one of the politicians.
“This lawyer was threatened and had to flee the country”, informed the press team of pre-candidate Chamorro in a statement, in which he explained that they hired a new lawyer for the defense.
The source indicated that the lawyer was threatened after filing a writ of habeas corpus in the Managua Courts, which was denied.
Ortega, who is not related to President Daniel Ortega, who is seeking re-election in the elections scheduled for November 7, could not meet with his client or provide legal assistance because the authorities have prohibited de facto visits to the prison, according to Chamorro’s press team.
JOURNALISTS HAVE ALSO LEFT THE COUNTRY
Ortega becomes the first lawyer of the 21 people who has been detained in the last 33 days to leave Nicaragua.
The Nicaraguan police, led by Francisco Díaz, a close associate of Ortega’s, is holding under arrest opposition presidential hopefuls Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, and Miguel Mora, whom it accuses of “treason”.
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Also a former first lady, three other politicians, a business leader, a banker, a journalist, and six leaders of a political movement founded by dissidents of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), including two historical combatants and former comrades in arms of the president.
In addition, three former employees of the Violeta Barrios de Chamorro Foundation.
The lawyer joins at least three journalists who have left Nicaragua to protect their freedom in the midst of the cascade of arrests against opposition leaders.
Journalist Carlos Fernando Chamorro, one of the most critical voices against the Ortega government and winner of the 38th Ortega y Gasset Journalism Awards, is one of the journalists who left Nicaragua in the current context.
NICARAGUA BECOMES “A BIG PRISON”
According to various opponents, Ortega is turning Nicaragua “into a big jail”, he is betting on imposing a “total silence” and on Nicaraguans living “in fear” with a view to the November 7 elections.
“The regime continues to advance in this repressive escalation, which is turning Nicaragua into a big prison,” said last Monday the legal representative of the opposition Citizens’ Alliance for Freedom, Carmela Rogers, known as Kitty Monterrey.
The arrests and raids on opponents’ homes come almost four months before Nicaragua’s general elections, to be held on November 7. Ortega, in power since 2007, is seeking new reelection.
The president, a former guerrilla who is about to turn 76 and returned to power in 2007 after coordinating a government junta from 1979 to 1984 and presiding over the country for the first time between 1985 and 1990, has accused opposition leaders of trying to overthrow him with the support of the United States and has called them “criminals”.