Venezuela’s top court accused four opposition lawmakers of treason on Tuesday, following similar accusations against 10 legislators this month, escalating a deep political crisis in the South American country.

Security forces earlier prevented lawmakers from entering the legislature for Tuesday’s session, saying they were investigating the possible presence of an explosive device inside the building.

The Supreme Court accused lawmakers Carlos Paparoni, Miguel Pizarro, Franco Casella and Winston Flores of treason and inciting rebellion.

The accusations, in a statement posted on the court’s Facebook page, marked the latest step in a crackdown by President Nicolas Maduro on allies of opposition leader Juan Guaido following a failed effort to spur a military uprising in April.

“This simply gives us more strength,” Flores told Reuters, calling the Supreme Court’s accusations “illegitimate orders from the dictator.”

“We know they will continue with this process of trying to destroy the National Assembly,” he said.

Mexico’s foreign ministry said later on Tuesday it had received opposition lawmaker Franco Manuel Casella Lovaton in its embassy in Caracas “to provide protection and shelter.”

The ministry, which stressed its commitment to protecting human rights, also said it would continue to follow a policy of non-intervention in Venezuela.

“The government reaffirms its position of non-intervention, its openness to dialogue and its firm commitment to collaborate in finding a democratic, peaceful and collaborative solution to the situation that Venezuela faces,” it said in a statement.

One opposition lawmaker was arrested and several took refuge in foreign embassies in Caracas or fled the country last week after similar accusations from the court.

Read more at Reuters. 

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