The Americas

Venezuela opposition passes bill to free imprisoned activist

Venezuela's opposition-controlled congress has passed legislation aimed at freeing dozens of imprisoned activists, setting up a fight with the socialist administration.

President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to veto the bill. It passed Tuesday night and represents the first major initiative approved by lawmakers since critics of Maduro's government won control of congress in January.

The bill would free more than 70 people considered by lawmakers to be political prisoners, including opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Human rights groups call Lopez the region's highest-profile political prisoner. He was jailed in 2014 for leading a sometimes bloody protest movement.

Socialist officials call the bill an effort to free murderers. They say that if congress overrides Madruo's veto, the Supreme Court will block the legislation. The court has thwarted most congressional action this year.