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Baduel, rival of Hugo Chavez, arrested in Venezuela

Former Venezuelan Defense Minister Raul Isaias Baduel, a prominent political adversary of President Hugo Chavez, was arrested at gunpoint Thursday, reportedly by agents of military intelligence.

The country's military prosecutor, Ernesto Cedeno, confirmed in statements to reporters that the general's arrest was connected to charges of embezzlement during his 2006-2007 tenure as defense minister.

However, Baduel's family, his defense team and leaders of the opposition have described the arrest as yet another in a string of recent persecutions of dissidents by the Chavez government.

Interviewed on Union Radio, Baduel's attorney, Omar Mora Tosta, said the arrest made no sense, since the general had complied with the requirement, imposed last September, that he sign in with the authorities every two weeks.

"This is a response to his anti-government stance," Mora told Union Radio, describing the move as part of "a campaign of government terrorism."

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