MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaraguan judicial authorities ordered Monday that a potential opposition presidential candidate be held for three months while his case is investigated.
Arturo Cruz Sequeira, a former ambassador to the United States, was arrested Saturday under a controversial “treason” law passed in December. Cruz Sequeira was considered a contender for the nomination of the opposition Citizens for Liberty party in the Nov. 7 elections.
Also approved in December was a change to the penal code extending the period of pre-detention to 90 days from 48 hours.
The arrest of Cruz Segueira follows the detention earlier last week of opposition figure Cristiana Chamorro, who is being held incommunicado at her home on allegations of money laundering. The United States has called for the release of both opposition figures.
President Daniel Ortega is seeing a fourth consecutive term as president. His government has been systematically clearing the field of opponents.
Cruz Sequeira, who served as Nicaragua’s ambassador in Washington in 2007-2009, was detained at the Managua airport after he arrived on a flight from the U.S. capital, his aides said.
Juan Sebastián Chamorro, another presidential pre-candidate, said that police searched Cruz’s home Monday. Videos of police arriving circulated on social media.
The Attorney General’s Office said in a statement that it had asked a judge to extend the period of Cruz’s detention to 90 days. The judge complied.
The prosecutor’s office said it took the step due to “the seriousness and complexity of the alleged crime, as is the crime of provocation, proposition and conspiracy to commit harm to the national well-being; and because the probability exists that the subject of the investigation could interfere in the process.”