Dec 3, 2014 11:56 AM

Opposition figure in Venezuela faces questioning

The Associated Press

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) A Venezuelan opposition leader faced questions from prosecutors Wednesday over her alleged involvement in what the government says was a plot to kill President Nicolas Maduro.

Maria Corina Machado obeyed an order to provide testimony at a closed hearing Wednesday in downtown Caracas, though the former member of the National Assembly has insisted she has no knowledge of any plot and the allegations are a form of political persecution.

"I have not committed any crime," Machado said before the meeting with prosecutors. "This is the price I have to pay for speaking the truth in Venezuela."

The attorney general's office opened its investigation in March after officials claimed a plot was being formed against the government involving Machado and several other opposition figures. Authorities have not provided any evidence publicly beyond some allegedly incriminating emails.

Authorities prohibited Machado from leaving the country in June.

Since narrowly winning election last year to succeed his mentor, the late President Hugo Chavez, Maduro has claimed there have been five assassination attempts against him and more than a dozen acts of sabotage and conspiracy.

The investigation of Machado comes as Venezuela comes under increasing financial strain because of plunging world oil prices, forcing the government to cut spending amid widespread shortages and the world's highest inflation. More than 95 percent of Venezuela's export earnings come from crude oil exports.


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