Venezuela opposition figure Lopez en route to Spain after leaving Caracas embassy: family

Madrid (AFP) –


Leopoldo Lopez, a key Venezuelan opposition figure who has been holed up at the Spanish ambassador's residence in Caracas for the past 18 months, has left the embassy and fled the country, his father told AFP Saturday.

"I can confirm he left the embassy of his own free will and left Venezuela in secret," his father, who is also called Leopoldo Lopez and lives in Spain, told AFP.

Lopez, the telegenic former mayor of the chic Caracas district of Chacao, was arrested in 2014 when the mass opposition protests began in Venezuela, serving several years in prison before being released to house arrest.

He was freed by the military officials who were keeping him under house arrest, and quickly sought refuge inside the Spanish ambassador's residence.

Lopez said his son had left the embassy "about two days ago" and secretly crossed the border into Colombia on Friday.

He had since moved on to a third country and was making his way to Spain to be reunited with his wife and three children in Madrid.

"We hope he will be here tomorrow," said Lopez, who is a member of the European Parliament for Spain's rightwing opposition Popular Party.