The jailed mayor of Venezuela's capital has been taken from prison to a hospital where he will undergo emergency surgery for a groin hernia.

Antonio Ledezma was transferred early Saturday after a court granted prosecutors' request to permit his release on medical grounds, according to his lawyer Omar Estacio.

Following the procedure he will be allowed to recuperate at home.

Ledezma was treated for the same ailment before his arrest.

The opposition leader was arrested by police during a dramatic raid on his office in February and he has been held at a military prison on charges of plotting a coup against the South American country's socialist government.

The mayor denies the allegation.

Ledezma, 59, is among the fiercest critics of the administration of President Nicolas Maduro. The administration ridicules him as "the vampire," a reference to his association with disgraced former President Carlos Andres Perez, who was impeached on charges of corruption and amid a punishing economic crisis triggered by a Washington-backed austerity reforms.

He was being held in a military prison on the outskirts of Caracas along with opposition hardliner Leopoldo Lopez, who was jailed in connection with his leadership of a protest movement that swept the country last year.

Critics of the Maduro administration consider Ledezma and Lopez to be the country's highest-profile political prisoners, and more than 25 former heads of state from Spain and Latin America have called for their release.

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