CARACAS, Venezuela – Leopoldo Lopez, a prominent political prisoner in Venezuela, recorded a message before his wife left with his children to the U.S.
The video was to be released if he was taken from his home in Caracas, where he was on house arrest, and returned to a military prison, where he spent about three years. Someone published it on his YouTube account after Lopez was taken from his home during a secret raid Tuesday.
In the video, Lopez asks Venezuelans to continue their fight for a better country. He also said his wife, Lilian Tintori, 39, was pregnant with their third child.
"This is another reason to fight for Venezuela," the 46-year-old political prisoner said while caressing his wife.
Lopez said the video was recorded July 17, after his temporary release from prison. He said the news of Tintori's pregnancy was the best he had gotten in the last three years.
"Despite of this attachment of family that we have, I am willing to move forward, and continue telling Venezuelans what I consider is the path for freedom and democracy," he said in the video released Tuesday.
For his activism during the 2014 protests against the socialist government, Lopez was accused of conspiracy, incitement to commit crimes, arson and damage to public property. He turned himself in Feb. 12, 2014.
Judge Susana Barreiros, a socialist loyalist, sentenced Lopez to 13 years, 9 months, 7 days and 12 hours in prison. Human rights activists worldwide followed the case.
The Human Rights Foundation declared Lopez a prisoner of conscience. The Human Rights Watch said his sentencing was part of "the classic tactics of an authoritarian regime."Amnesty International said Lopez's case was "a politically motivated attempt to silence dissent in the country."
Lopez left the military prison July 8 about 3 a.m. The Venezuelan Supreme Tribunal of Justice cited case "irregularities" and health reasons for his release.
Lopez released a video July 25 saying he was the victim of humiliations, cruelty and isolation at the military prison. He asked Venezuelans to continue their peaceful and organized demonstrations against Maduro's efforts to consolidate power and he asked members of the military and law enforcement to abstain from shooting at protesters.
Tintori left Venezuela with their two children, Leopoldo Santiago and Manuela Rafaela, July 25. El Nacional reported the three flew from Caracas to Miami. She shared the Tuesday morning security footage from her home on Twitter.
After he was returned to prison Tuesday, the Supreme Court released a statement saying Lopez violated the terms of his house arrest when he encouraged Venezuelans to protest against Maduro.
In the latest video, he sent a message to Venezuelans who have been forced to leave their country.
"It's worth fighting for Venezuela. Let's not give up the fight. Let's never give up. Let's not get tired of wanting a better Venezuela. Let's not stop dreaming," Lopez said in the video.