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Venezuelan opposition activist 'barred from leaving the country'

Prominent Venezuelan opposition activist Lilian Tintori claims she has been barred from leaving the country for planned meetings with leaders from France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

Ms Tintori posted a photo on Twitter of herself at Caracas' international airport on Saturday holding a document ordering the seizure of her passport.

The previous day she was ordered to appear before a judge on Tuesday to answer questions about a large sum of cash found in her vehicle.

She alleged that she is being kept from travelling because President Nicolas Maduro does not want her to speak about Venezuela's humanitarian crisis.

Ms Tintori is the wife of the nation's best-known opposition activist, Leopoldo Lopez.

He spent three years in a military prison before being released in July and placed under house arrest.

"The evidence is clear why the dictatorship is stirring the pot against me," Ms Tintori tweeted. "They want to keep me from talking about the humanitarian crisis we are living in Venezuela."

On Friday, Ms Tintori received notice that she was being investigated after authorities discovered in her car some 200 million bolivars, around £46,000 at the nation's weakest official exchange rate.

She denounced the probe as politically motivated, pointing out in a video that it is not a crime to have cash in one's possession. She said the money was to pay for family emergencies.

Tarek William Saab, whom the pro-government constitutional assembly appointed to replace Venezuela's outspoken chief prosecutor after she was ousted recently, said Thursday that her case was under investigation but without providing details.

Ms Tintori described her planned trip to Europe as "very important."

Pressure is building on the continent's leaders to join Washington in slapping sanctions on Mr Maduro's government and top officials as they move forward with plans to rewrite Venezuela's constitution and consolidate power.

More than 120 people were killed in four months of protests in Venezuela, with the majority of the deaths caused by security forces and pro-government groups, according to the United Nations.

French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern this week over what he called the "dictatorship" in Venezuela, lamenting that Mr Maduro is "trying to survive at the cost of an unprecedented humanitarian distress".

AP

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