A Venezuelan court has declined to meet a United Nations call for the release of opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, who faces charges of inciting violence stemming from anti-government protests early in 2013.

The U.N. Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions and the body's top human rights official have urged Venezuela to release Lopez and other jailed government opponents.

Defense lawyer Juan Carlos Gutierrez said Thursday that the criminal court rejected the U.N. request and called it only a statement in favor of Lopez.

Venezuelan officials previously criticized the U.N. effort, calling Lopez's detention legal and appropriate and accusing the U.N. of meddling in the country's internal affairs.

Lopez has been jailed since February for his role in the street demonstrations that shook the socialist Latin American country last winter and spring.