Venezuela secret service holding ex-minister: family
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Venezuelan former defense minister Raul Isaias Baduel, a government critic whose whereabouts have been unknown for three weeks, is being held by the intelligence service, his family said Friday.
Baduel's daughter Andreina told a press conference the family were only told of his whereabouts in a phone call from new attorney general Tarek William Saab, and that she and her brother were taken to see him.
"They have him in the SEBIN at Plaza Venezuela, known as 'The Tomb'," she said, referring to the intelligence service headquarters in Caracas.
Baduel was "spiritually and physically" strong despite the conditions he was being held in, she said.
Considered by the opposition to be one of the country's most prominent political prisoners, the retired former army chief, 62, was "wearing the same clothes" as when he was last seen on August 8 during his transfer from a military prison outside Caracas, his daughter said.
On Friday, Baduel's wife accused Saab of a "cover up" for concealing his whereabouts.
The opposition maintains there are around 590 political prisoners in Venezuela, which is suffering an economic crisis that has caused shortages of food and medicine.
International powers accuse President Nicolas Maduro of dismantling democracy by taking over state institutions in order to resist opposition pressure for him to quit.
Defense minister in the government of Maduro's predecessor Hugo Chavez, who died in 2013, Baduel helped to restore the then president after an April 2002 coup briefly removed him from power, but then became his adversary.
He was due to be released last March after serving a nearly eight-year sentence for corruption.
However, the prosecutor's office charged him with alleged conspiracy to oust Maduro for which he could face up to 26 years in prison.
He was conditionally released from his original sentence in August 2015 but jailed again in January this year when he attended a routine court hearing.
© 2017 AFP