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Nicaragua jails 7 opposition activists for ‘undermining national integrity’

Seven opposition activists convicted of “undermining national integrity” in Nicaragua have received prison sentences of up to 13 years, a human rights group said Thursday.

They include student leader Lesther Aleman, 24, who rose to fame after publicly calling for President Daniel Ortega’s resignation during a dialogue between the government and activists involved in 2018 protests, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said. 

Aleman got 13 years after a trial that was held behind closed doors in the prison where he and others were being held and concluded last week, it said. The court did not announce the sentences publicly.

Another activist handed 13 years is journalist and former presidential candidate Miguel Mora, the rights center said.

They were among 46 opposition members, including seven presidential hopefuls, who were arrested in the run-up to presidential elections in November last year, thus assuring a fourth term in power for Ortega.

A firebrand Marxist in his youth, Ortega ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, after leading a guerrilla army that ousted US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Returning to power in 2007, he has won re-election three times, becoming increasingly dictatorial and quashing presidential term limits.

The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions against Nicaragua, the poorest country in Central America, over election-related and human rights abuses under Ortega.

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