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Venezuela activists charged with terrorism: rights group

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Three activists with Venezuelan rights group Fundaredes, which has lifted the lid on fighting near the border with Colombia, are facing criminal charges including "terrorism," their lawyer said Saturday.

Director Javier Tarazona and his colleagues Rafael Tarazona and Omar Garcia are accused of "treason, terrorism, and incitement to hatred," lawyer Stefania Migliorini said in a video posted on social networks.

According to Fundaredes, the three were arrested Friday when they went to the public prosecutor's office in the northwestern city of Coro to file a complaint against "harassment and persecution" at the hands of police and intelligence agents.

They are now in preventive detention in Caracas, the group said.

Fundaredes had alerted to the presence of Colombian dissident guerrillas on Venezuelan territory and criticized the response of the government, which it accused of harboring the fighters.

It reported on the fighting that broke out on March 21 before the government did. Clashes have since displaced thousands of civilians.

Venezuela does not name the armed groups it blames for the unrest, apart from calling them "terrorists" or linking them to drug trafficking or to Colombian President Ivan Duque.

However, security sources in Colombia say they are likely dissidents of the now-disbanded Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) rebel group, an analysis Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro has conceded was possible.

Bogota has long accused Venezuela of shielding members of the FARC and armed rebel group ELN on its soil—a charge Maduro denies.

Some FARC fighters who refused to join Colombia's peace process have continued their struggle, while also mixing with and battling drug traffickers.

Venezuela and Colombia, which share a 2,200-kilometer (1,370 miles) border, severed diplomatic ties in January 2019, after Bogota recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as the leader of Venezuela over Maduro following a disputed election.


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