Venezuela lawmaker seeks refuge in Argentine embassy after colleague's arrest

Venezuela Opposition leader Juan Guaido’s deputy arrested, car towed away with him inside

The Venezuelan government's secret police have "kidnapped" National Assembly Vice President Edgar Zambrano, opposition leader Juan Guaidó said Wednesday.

Edgar Zambrano, vice-president of the opposition-controlled National Assembly said on Twitter that agents from the SEBIN intelligence agency were using a tow truck to drag his vehicle, with him inside, to one of their Caracas bases.

Zambrano is being held in preventive detention for "the flagrant commission of the crimes of treason, conspiracy and civil rebellion", the Supreme Court said in a statement announcing the verdict of a lower court.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Friday called his former intelligence chief Manuel Cristopher a "traitor" and said he had helped plan a military uprising called for by the opposition on April 30, which Maduro described as a "coup".

Attorney General Tarek William Saab says the two days of clashes that followed left six people dead.

Lawmaker Richard Blanco gives a speech to opposition supporters during a rally against the National Constituent Assembly, outside a school where a polling center will be established for a Constitutional Assembly election next Sunday in Caracas, Venezuela, July 24, 2017. But U.S. officials have since been more cautious in their predictions of Maduro's swift exit, while reassessing what one official described as the likelihood of a diplomatic "long haul".

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Guaido invoked the constitution to assume an interim presidency in January, arguing Maduro's 2018 reelection was illegitimate. The United States used to be the main buyer of Venezuelan abundant oil, while in the last decade the Russian Federation - mostly through Rosneft - invested and increased its participation in extraction fields and commercialization of Venezuelan oil.

The 35-year-old called for a national demonstration on Saturday to reject measures taken by the Supreme Court against opposition lawmakers.

But through months of crisis, Maduro - supported by China, Russia and his armed forces - has stood firm.

Vice President Tareck El Aissami said the frontier with Brazil was "once again restored", and maritime links with the Caribbean island of Aruba were also reopened. That border was closed in February, frustrating Guaido's attempt to bring stockpiled humanitarian aid, mostly from the USA, across the border.

Venezuela has suffered more than four years of recession marked by shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.

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