Venezuela

Colombia offers asylum to Venezuelan prosecutor who criticized Maduro regime

In this June 28, 2017, file photo, Venezuela's chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega speaks during a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela. The ousted chief prosecutor fled to Colombia with her husband German Ferrer, on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, a day after the Supreme Court ordered his arrest.
In this June 28, 2017, file photo, Venezuela's chief prosecutor Luisa Ortega speaks during a press conference in Caracas, Venezuela. The ousted chief prosecutor fled to Colombia with her husband German Ferrer, on Friday, Aug. 18, 2017, a day after the Supreme Court ordered his arrest. AP File

Venezuela’s former chief prosecutor is being “protected” in Colombia and will receive asylum if she asks for it, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Monday.

Santos’ Twitter message may put to rest speculation that Luisa Ortega, who fled Venezuela with her husband on Friday, had already sought asylum in the United States.

Ortega, a one-time government ally turned critic, says she has proof that Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro is personally implicated in the Odebrecht construction scandal. The Brazilian company has told authorities that it paid at least $100 million in bribes for Venezuelan contracts.

On Sunday, Maduro told local television that it’s Ortega who’s the criminal, saying she squashed corruption investigations — particularly in the oil industry — in exchange for millions in bribes.

“Now I’ve uncovered the network of extortion, in all of its magnitude, that was protected by corruption,” he said.

Ortega was fired on Aug. 4, and authorities searched her house last week and issued an arrest warrant for her husband, Germán Ferrer, a ruling-party deputy.

According to Colombia’s foreign ministry and local reports, the couple fled to Aruba on a boat and arrived in Colombia’s capital Friday afternoon on a charter flight.

Ortega’s fate is likely to spark a political tug-of-war, as she’s thought to have sensitive information on Maduro and many of his closest allies.

Follow me on Twitter @jimwyss

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