(CNN)—President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela said he is seeking the release of a jailed opposition leader if the United States agrees to release a Puerto Rican nationalist.
“The only way I would use (presidential) powers would be to put (Leopoldo Lopez) on a plane, so he can go to the United States and stay there, and they would give me Oscar Lopez Rivera — man for man,” Maduro said on television on Sunday.
Leopoldo Lopez is currently in a Venezuelan prison after being part of a three-month wave of opposition against Maduro’s reign as President. Oscar Lopez Rivera was convicted in the 1980s of seditious conspiracy.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that there is “no comparison” between the cases of Leopoldo Lopez Oscar Lopez Rivera.
“There’s no comparison in our view between these cases,” she said.
“We’ve repeatedly called for the release of all political prisoners. President Maduro proposes exiling opposition figures rather than having a discussion about the real concerns and problems facing Venezuela. It’s unfortunate that Leopoldo Lopez who should be presumed innocent is being sentenced on national television by Venezuela’s President without the conclusion of a trial.”