The Panamanian government announced Friday that it has granted exile to Venezuelan opposition leader Nixon Moreno “out of concern for his personal safety.”
The foreign ministry said in a communique that the decision is in line with Panama’s reputation as a country the welcomes exiles.
Moreno “entered our territory and by means of a note on Oct. 21, 2011,” requested the government of Panama “to grant him the condition of territorial exile out of concern for his personal safety if he should return to his country of origin,” the ministry said.
The 37-year-old Moreno, a leader of students opposed to the leftist government of President Hugo Chavez, had taken refuge in Peru until last July, when a new administration friendlier to Caracas took office in Lima.
Moreno remains the subject of an Interpol Red Notice, as he is wanted in Venezuela for vandalism and sex crimes.
The search for Moreno, considered a “political refugee” by the Venezuelan opposition, is the consequence of a court case opened in 2006 by prosecutors who charged him with attempted murder of a police officer and with taking part in the sexual assault of a policewoman.
Moreno’s attorneys deny these accusations.
In 2007 Moreno took refuge in the Vatican mission in Caracas, which granted him political exile, but which he left on March 9, 2009, when Caracas refused to issue him a safe conduct pass, and on Aug. 13 he turned up in the capital of Peru.