Venezuela opposition leader surrenders to police on day of dueling demonstrations

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Associated Press

Posted on February 18, 2014 at 3:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 18 at 3:07 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — A leader of Venezuela's opposition has been arrested after emerging from hiding today.

Leopoldo Lopez made an impassioned speech to some 5,000 supporters gathered in the capital, Caracas, saying he hoped his detention will open Venezuelans' eyes to their government's increasingly authoritarian style.

After the short speech, Lopez walked a few feet to a police line, where he turned himself in. Opposition politicians urged calm as Lopez was taken away.

Lopez was being sought by authorities for allegedly inciting violence during protests last week in which three people were killed. He faces charges including homicide and vandalism of public property.

President Nicolas Maduro accuses Lopez of leading a "fascist" plot to overthrow him.

Meanwhile in Washington, the State Department is rejecting allegations that the U.S. is helping to organize the protests. It's hinting that it will take retaliatory action for the expulsion of three U.S. diplomats. Venezuela charges that the Americans tried to infiltrate Venezuelan universities under the cover of doing visa outreach.

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APPHOTO XFLL210: Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, dressed in white and holding up a flower stem, is taken into custody by Bolivarian National Guards, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014. Lopez re-emerged from days of hiding to address an anti-government demonstration and then he turned himself in to authorities Tuesday. Speaking to some 5,000 supporters with a megaphone, Lopez said that he doesn't fear going to jail to defend his beliefs and constitutional right to peacefully protest against President Nicolas Maduro. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) (18 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XFLL210 (02/18/14)££

APPHOTO XFLL112: Opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, dressed in white and holding up a flower stem, is taken into custody by Bolivarian National Guards, in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Feb 18, 2014. Lopez re-emerged from days of hiding to address an anti-government demonstration and then he turned himself in to authorities Tuesday. Speaking to some 5,000 supporters with a megaphone, Lopez said that he doesn't fear going to jail to defend his beliefs and constitutional right to peacefully protest against President Nicolas Maduro.(AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) (18 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XFLL112 (02/18/14)££

APPHOTO XFLL102: Students shout slogans against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a march to Venezuelan Telecommunications Regulator Office or CONATEL in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb17, 2014. The students, who've spent the past week on the streets alternating between peaceful protests by day and battles with police at night, marched on Monday to Venezuela's telecom regulator to demand it lift all restrictions on the media's coverage of the unfolding political crisis. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) (17 Feb 2014)

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APPHOTO XFLL103: A demonstrator covers her mouth with a rag to prostest government censorship, during a march to Venezuelan Telecommunications Regulator Office or CONATEL in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb17, 2014. Students, who've spent the past week on the streets alternating between peaceful protests by day and battles with police at night, marched on Monday to Venezuela's telecom regulator to demand it lift all restrictions on the media's coverage of the unfolding political crisis. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) (17 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XFLL103 (02/17/14)££

APPHOTO XFLL101: Students shout slogans against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro during a march to the Venezuelan Telecommunications Regulator Office or CONATEL in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday, Feb17, 2014. More students, who've spent the past week on the streets alternating between peaceful protests by day and battles with police at night, marched on Monday to Venezuela's telecom regulator to demand it lift all restrictions on media's coverage of the unfolding political crisis. (AP Photo/Alejandro Cegarra) (17 Feb 2014)

<<APPHOTO XFLL101 (02/17/14)££

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