Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, issued the following statement in response to the nearly 14 year prison sentence handed down to Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez:

“The sentencing of Leopoldo Lopez to over 13 years in prison is not only a miscarriage of justice for Lopez and all Venezuelans seeking democratic political participation, but a clear reminder that Venezuela lacks an independent judiciary and rule of law that is necessary for democracy and human rights to prosper.  These closed door proceedings where Lopez’ lawyers were allowed only one witness to the government’s 108 witnesses, reflects the desperation of a foundering government that continues to fail the people of Venezuela.

“I call on the Obama Administration and all regional leaders who champion the values of freedom, democracy, and human rights to forcefully condemn the unjust sentencing of Leopoldo Lopez, and Venezuela’s continued attempts to silence legitimate opposition.  I hope a swift, fair and independent appeals process is allowed, as these politically motivated charges against Lopez and other political dissenters suffering under similarly trumped up charges undermines our regional democratic values."