Denver, Colo., Feb 14, 2023 / 16:52 pm
The U.S. government must seek the release of Nicaragua’s Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos, sentenced to 26 years in prison for religious freedom advocacy. That is the urgent message from the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
“We are appalled that Bishop Álvarez will now serve 26 years in prison for raising concerns about Nicaragua’s many religious freedom violations. This miscarriage of justice will not be forgotten,” USCIRF Commissioner Frederick A. Davie said Feb. 14. “USCIRF urges the U.S. government to call on the Nicaraguan government to release Bishop Álvarez immediately and unconditionally.”
Álvarez, who has served as bishop of Matagalpa since 2011, last Thursday refused to board a plane with 222 released political prisoners, including four priests. The released prisoners were flown to the U.S. in an agreement with the U.S. State Department.
On Friday Álvarez was stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship and sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison. He was accused of being a “traitor to the homeland.” Specific charges included undermining national security and sovereignty, spreading fake news, obstructing an official in the performance of his duties, and aggravated disobedience or contempt of authority.