Nicaragua releases 100 jailed protesters to house arrest

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MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — The Nicaraguan government released 100 prisoners to a form of house arrest Monday, including three human rights activists.

The administration of President Daniel Ortega said all 100 face charges of "offenses against security and the public peace," which have commonly been applied to participants in anti-government protests that started last year.

But opposition figures could not immediately confirm that all those released Monday were protesters. However, relatives did confirm the release of three leaders of a non-governmental group known as the Permanent Human Rights Commission.

The release apparently did not include leaders of the protest movement.

The release came an hour after the opposition had announced it was withdrawing from talks with Ortega's government, to press its demand for the release of hundreds of jailed protesters and dropping charges against them.

José Pallais, one of the members of the opposition Civic Alliance who participated in the talks, said the releases "are a positive gesture, but not enough" to draw Ortega's opponents back to the talks, which resumed in February.

"They should free all of them so the talks can resume, and ensure that all are freed without charges," Pallais said.

Last week, 17 people who were arrested in the anti-government protests were wounded in a disturbance at a Nicaraguan prison in which a 57-year-old Nicaraguan-American dual national was shot dead.

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