Nicaragua frees 91 protesters, including Belgian

MEXICO CITY (AP) — The Nicaraguan government feed 91 protesters Monday, including 16 activists arrested in Nicaragua in November for taking water to demonstrators. Those released included a student leader who is a Belgian dual-national.

The Interior Ministry said all 91 had been released under a form of house arrest. It said the releases were aimed at “contributing to national reconciliation,” and acknowledged the role played by the Papal Nuncio, Waldemar Sommertag, and International Red Cross in the process.

Relatives and business leaders confirmed the release of several of the activists, and other confirmed their own release in messages posted to social media.

Those released included Belgian-Nicaraguan activist Amaya Coppens. Coppens was one of the activists arrested on Nov. 14 and charged with illegally transporting arms.

One student leader arrested then, Maria Margarita Hurtado, told journalists that “I am out and ready to keep fighting for the other political prisoners and for a free Nicaragua”.

The activists had sought to assist women participating in a hunger strike at a church in Nicaragua.

The hunger strike was aimed at ending the detention of about 150 protesters still jailed following a government crackdown on demonstrations against president Daniel Ortega.

Largely student-led protests erupted in April 2018 over a social security overhaul and broadened to include a demand for Ortega’s exit from office and early elections.

Hundreds of protesters had been freed previously, including Coppens.