France summons Venezuela ambassador over activist's death

1 min

Paris (AFP)

France on Thursday summoned Venezuela's ambassador to Paris over the death in detention of a Venezuelan opposition activist.

Venezuelan authorities say that Fernando Alban, a 52-year-old Caracas city council member accused of taking part in a failed drone attack on President Nicolas Maduro, committed suicide on Monday by jumping out a window of the headquarters of the state intelligence service.

But his supporters say he was murdered -- a theory echoed by the United States, a fierce critic of Maduro's regime.

The French foreign ministry said he had summoned the ambassador over Alban's "suspicious death" and called on Caracas to "shed light on this death through an impartial and independent inquiry".

France's relations with Caracas have also soured since Maduro came to power following the death of his mentor Hugo Chavez, with Paris accusing his government of an "authoritarian drift" and Caracas accusing Paris of trying to foster regime change.

The French foreign ministry on Thursday reissued an appeal for the liberation of all political prisoners in Venezuela and respect for basic rights.