Feb 14, 2023 - World

Nicaragua sentences Catholic bishop to 26 years in prison

Two protesters hold up posters of Nicaraguan Catholic Bishop Rolando Álvarez while protesting his arrest

Nicaraguan exiles in Costa Rica protest against the detention of Rolando Álvarez last August. Photo: Óscar Navarrete/AFP via Getty Images

A Nicaraguan bishop who refused to get on a plane with hundreds of other political prisoners to go into exile in the U.S. has been sentenced to 26 years in prison, according to a Nicaraguan justice system statement.

The big picture: The prosecution of Rolando Álvarez, a political prisoner who was first arrested in August, comes as the government of President Daniel Ortega has increasingly cracked down on dissent.

  • The sentencing, which was originally scheduled for tomorrow, was moved up to Friday after Ortega freed 222 political prisoners by sending them to Washington, D.C., on a flight.

Background: Álvarez, who has criticized Ortega's human rights record, was accused of being a traitor for allegedly helping anti-government protesters by attempting to mediate between them and the government.

  • He was also convicted of spreading false information.
  • Álvarez has denied all of the allegations.

Álvarez's prosecution has been decried worldwide.

  • Pope Francis said during his Sunday homily he was praying for Álvarez and that he hopes political leaders can open their hearts.
  • Bishops from the European Union and the Episcopal Council of Latin America also criticized the conviction.

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