Christian Solidarity Worldwide, 10 Feb 2023 (excerpts)
Roman Catholic priests and lay leaders, and a Protestant pastor were included in a group of political prisoners sent from Nicaragua to the United States this week.
The Nicaraguan government announced that 222 prisoners had been removed from prison and put on flights to the United States on the morning of 9 February. Family members were reportedly not informed in advance of the move. President Daniel Ortega subsequently declared that all 222 of those released are no longer Nicaraguans and have been stripped of their citizenship.
Bishop Álvarez Lagos was not among those listed and had refused to leave Nicaragua, despite government pressure. President Ortega later announced that the he has been transferred from house arrest to prison.
Protestant Pastor Wilber Alberto Pérez was also among the group sent to the US. He was arbitrarily detained on 15 December 2020 for promoting the ‘Christmas without Political Prisoners’ campaign. In March 2021, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison and was held in solitary confinement in a ‘punishment cell’ with no natural light.
The choice reportedly offered to these individuals of remaining in prison in inhumane conditions or going into forced exile is one no one should ever be forced to make.