The government says it has granted Spanish nationality to six Venezuelans linked to the opposition, including two family members of jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria said Friday the papers had been granted to Lopez' sister Cristina and her husband Hernan Cifuentes. The government also granted papers to the director of the Venezuela newspaper El Nacional and to his wife and two children.

She said the six were victims of the political persecution prevailing in Venezuela and that Spanish nationality would help them face this with more democratic guarantees.

Spain granted nationality to Lopez's parents in December.

The move comes as the opposition challenges Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's 60-day state of emergency decree that gives him decree powers to intervene in the country.