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Jailed Nicaraguan Bishop Alvarez Released and Re-Arrested

The jailed Nicaraguan Catholic bishop Rolando Alvarez was released but then re-arrested after refusing to leave the country, a diplomatic source in Managua said on Wednesday.

Alvarez was sentenced to 26 years in prison in February after refusing to board a US-bound plane carrying 222 political prisoners into exile.

The diplomatic source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Alvarez was released Monday but was later returned to the prison where he had been confined for the past five months for “undermining national integrity.”

The Archbishop of Managua, Leopoldo Brenes, denied that version of events, calling it “speculation.”

“That is what has happened right now with many journalists, they have released news without confirming it and rather created a fuss,” said Brenes.

Reports, especially among Nicaraguan media in exile, had spread since Tuesday of Alvarez’s release.

The bishop is an outspoken critic of what he has called restrictions on religious freedom under the government of Daniel Ortega, president since 2007.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights demanded last week “to require the State of Nicaragua to immediately proceed with the release of Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez” and adopt measures to protect his life and health.

Relations between the Holy See and Managua are tense. The Vatican’s embassy in Nicaragua was closed earlier this year after Pope Francis in an interview referred to Ortega’s government as a dictatorship.

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