President Trump called on Venezuela to release a prominent political prisoner, Leopoldo López, after meeting with López's wife and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) at the White House on Wednesday night.
Trump tweeted the declaration of support along with a photo of López's wife, Lilian Tintori, Vice President Pence and Rubio after their White House dinner.
“Venezuela should allow Leopoldo Lopez, a political prisoner & husband of @liliantintori (just met w/ @marcorubio) out of prison immediately,” Trump tweeted.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 15, 2017
López was sentenced to 13 years in prison in 2015 for allegedly inciting violence at antigovernment protests. He is a U.S.-educated economist who has led the opposition to Venezuela's socialist government and founded the Popular Will party.
López's trial and sentence were condemned by the United Nations as well as the United States.
In a series of tweets, Tintori thanked Trump for “standing with the Venezuelan people & our aspirations to restore democracy to our country.”
She added in Spanish that she spoke to Trump and Pence about the “humanitarian crisis” facing the people in Venezuela, and she called the government, led by President Nicolás Maduro, a “dictatorship” that left its people “without food or medicines.”
Trump has not spoken about López's case in the past.
Apparently responding to Trump's comments, Maduro said he wanted to pursue “respectful relations with the new administration.”
“I don't want problems with the Trump administration,” Maduro said in a speech, according to Reuters.