Nicaraguan police detain bishop critical of President Daniel Ortega

By Thomson Reuters Aug 19, 2022 | 11:06 AM

(Reuters) -Nicaraguan police raided the home of a bishop critical of President Daniel Ortega early on Friday morning, and said they had taken him to the capital Managua where he remains under house arrest.

Rolando Alvarez, one of the most influential bishops of Nicaragua’s Catholic Church, had been under house arrest in Matagalpa for two weeks along with five priests, one seminarian and a cameraman for a religious television channel.

Police said the cameraman and clerics had been transferred to a prison in Managua.

Nicaraguan authorities have detained at least three priests in recent months while others have gone into exile.

The relationship between the Catholic Church and the Ortega government has been severely strained after a harsh crackdown on anti-Ortega protests in 2018.

Earlier this month, police said they were investigating Alvarez for forming violent groups and alleged conspiracy.

“With a heart full of pain and indignation, I condemn the nighttime kidnapping of Monsignor Alvarez,” said exiled Nicaraguan Bishop Silvio Baez in a tweet. “The dictatorship has once again surpassed its own evil and diabolic spirit.”

He called for Alvarez to be freed and urged those with information on his whereabouts to come forward.

The head of the Organization of American States, Luis Almagro, also condemned the detentions in a statement and demanded “their immediate freedom and those of all political prisoners.”

The niece of the 55-year-old bishop Alvarez said police had that same morning raided the house belonging to his parents in Managua.

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Sarah MorlandEditing by Alistair Bell)